Consent Orders Filed Online
From Monday 6 August 2018 applications for Consent Orders in family court financial proceedings can be filed online, avoiding the need to be delivered to the Court by (snail) mail. This marks another step towards a fully digital online Court Service, and is certainly one welcomed by us here at Paradigm Family Law.
Since setting up the practice in 2014 we have run a paperless office. As time has gone on, we have noticed that others have followed not least of which being the Court – albeit in baby steps. This latest development marks a further welcome step in the right direction for a fully integrated paperless environment for Family Law.
Practice Direction 36I (Pilot Scheme)
The process is covered under new Practice Direction 36I This provides for consent orders within certain categories of matrimonial proceedings to be filed online via an online application system through Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. The pilot scheme applies if the following criteria are satisfied:
a. The application is for a financial remedy in connection with matrimonial proceedings to which the standard procedure within Part 9 FPR applies. This of course includes financial provision ancillary to divorce (unless for periodical payments only as although they are within Part 9 it is within the fast-track procedure of that Part rather than the standard procedure) but also includes other proceedings including Part III (except an application for permission which is under Part 8) and Schedule One (again unless for periodical payments only or where the fast-track procedure has been elected).
b. The application is for a consent order. This would seem to include interim orders such as maintenance pending suit and directions as well as final financial orders.
c. The applicant is legally represented. The respondent does not need to be legally represented but would be required to have signed the consent order.
d. Access to the online system for making such applications must be permitted and more particulars in this regard are being sought.
e. The application started in the Family Court; and
f. The application is filed in the period commencing 6 August 2018 and ending 5 August 2019.
There are various modifications to existing provisions within the FPR to support the new pilot scheme, including an amendment to r.9.26(1)(a) requiring the applicant to file a draft of the order in the terms sought which must be signed by both parties. Also, courtesy of r.5.1(a) the applicant must provide the information and documents prescribed by the online application. This includes filing the D81 Statement of information for a consent order.
Hopefully there will be many more Practice Directions issued that will also allow for many of the other stages in financial remedy proceedings to take place in an online world. This latest development follows hot on the heels of the Online Divorce scheme that is now up and running.
If you would like more details on this or want to discuss your family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact James, Frank or Evelyn. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 01904 217225 or email us to [email protected].