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Divorce courts at breaking point

Separated couples are facing a record wait to get divorced as a result of regional divorce centres trying to process a backlog of older cases, it has been revealed. Quarterly statistics covering January to March this year, published by the Ministry of Justice today, show that the average time from petition to decree absolute is 59 weeks. The average time from petition to decree nisi is 33 weeks – up six weeks from last year. The ministry says the figures ‘represent the highest figures so far for the periods covered by this bulletin, and is a result of divorce centres processing a backlog of older cases’.

 

A question mark hangs over the future of the 11 regional divorce centres, which have been heavily criticised by senior family judges.

 

Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division, told practitioners this year that the centres ‘have not worked well’. Days later his predecessor, Sir James Munby, said in a family court judgment that the centres had become ‘bywords for delay and inefficiency, essentially because HMCTS has been unable or unwilling to furnish them with adequate numbers of staff and judges’.

 

Contact our office today if you need expert advice on divorce or financial matrimonial matters.