Last Updated on 1.2.24 by Gorvins
This time last year Bury St Edmunds Divorce Centre was created to centralise the divorce process. It would become the single divorce centre for London and the South East. Resolution Chair, Nigel Shepherd, is reported to have said that divorce centres are “under significant strain” due to the large number of divorce petitions received, which were not anticipated.
In June 2016 the Law Society Family Section put together a panel made up of the judiciary, senior civil servants and family lawyers to discuss how the centralisation process could be further developed.
Family lawyer, Tony Roe, made a number of freedom of information requests to the Ministry of Justice and reported that Bury St Edmunds had planned to deal with 40% of divorce work in England and Wales and it is understood that between 40,000 and 45,000 divorce petitions have been issued at the centre in the past year.
The cause of the strain?
The centre appears to be under significant strain due to the level of correspondence received on a daily basis which we understand is around 1,200 items of post including 250-300 divorce petitions and 150 emails, as well as around 700 calls per day. It is reported that earlier in the year Bury St Edmunds was working on a 48-hour turnaround time, but following a positive article in the press it became the divorce centre of choice resulting in an increase in petitions.
At Gorvins we have certainly noticed long delays involved in issuing divorce proceedings from Bury St Edmunds, as divorce petitions and applications for Decree Nisi are taking much longer than normal to process, which in turn is stretching out the divorce process for our Clients.
We understand that the divorce centre is publishing progress updates on its email auto-response message to assist practitioners and litigants in person by providing realistic timescales for turning around work. The message from the panel in June appeared to be that the more family lawyers and the divorce centres work together, the better it will be for everyone, although I am not sure what more family lawyers can do to speed up the process – aside from ensuring that any correspondence sent to the divorce centre is clear and all documentation properly completed without errors. It seems the onus is being put on practitioners when the reality is more Court staff are needed at the divorce centres if they are going to run efficiently in the way that was intended.
The Family Law team at Gorvins
If you are in the unfortunate position of wanting to file for divorce or dissolution please contact me or another member of the Family and Matrimonial team who will be happy to provide you with some free initial advice to ensure your proceedings run as smoothly as possible.