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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Monday 7 November 2016


Proceedings for divorce, nullity, civil partnership dissolution and separation between spouses and civil partners now have to be started in one of 11 centres in England and Wales. Where they are undefended (as with the vast majority of cases) they will usually be dealt with by legal advisers (whose functions used to be confined to magistrates' courts) and not by district judges at local family court hearing centres. Financial applications are heard elsewhere.

It was hoped that this centralisation for dealing with matrimonial business would hurry it up. Alas, reports point to cases taking the same time to conclude as before the changes came in to force and some anecdotal evidence suggests that they are taking considerably longer with certain of the centres.

There are ways of accelerating the process apart from ringing round the centres and coming to a conclusion about which one is the fastest to use. Not too many of you though, or it will soon become the slowest. And there are other ways: among them, arranging service of the papers on the other party yourself and in appropriate cases (where say you want to ensure an expected child is born legitimate  following a remarriage), applying for the decree to be expedited. There's more in  Breaking Law at chapter 48.