Alison Green of our London Family team attended at the Resolution Divorce Centre for London and South East question and answer session on Tuesday evening and here is a brief overview of what was discussed:-
From October 2015 all Divorces in London and the South East will be handled by the family court divorce centre at Bury St Edmonds (‘BStE’).
This centre will be taking on the work of 45 county court and magistrates court. The centres aim is for all work to be processed within 48 hours of receipt at the very most, although some practitioners feel that this is slightly optimistic.
There will be legal advisors working in the Centre dealing with the reviewing and issuing of Petitions and Financial Applications with the more complex matters of financial consent orders and applications for deemed or bailiffs service being dealt with by the District Judges. We are told that the legal advisors have had first class training by a District Judge and will be well equipped to take decisions on the petitions that are sent to the court.
If you have an urgent application to issue, whether it be a petition or and application in financial matters, all local courts will continue to process these over the counter, that is of course if your local court offers a counter service, because as we know some do not.
Court fees are still payable by cheque, there is no immediate plans for the court to accept bank transfers.
Practitioners are welcome to hand deliver documents to BStE court – although this is currently unlikely to happen given the distance and unreliable public transport service from London. There will be no secure drop box at local courts which will ensure the original documents you lodge find their way to BStE. You can deliver the documents to your local court but they will simply be placed in the Document Exchange to BStE thus causing some delay to your application.
Matters issued under the Children Act are not affected by the opening of the Divorce Centre.
Whilst it was interesting to hear about the changes at this question and answer session, practitioners left feeling there were still unresolved problems and fearing how this will all work come October 2015.
For further information on any of the above issues, or any other family or children matters please do not hesitate to contact Alison Green at our London Offices.