Does the snail still prevail?
A recent case prompted me to look further into the new rules as to how the court send out any application for divorce. Until relatively recently, all applications for divorce had to be sent on paper to the regional divorce centre at Bury St Edmunds. Once the family court went ‘on-line’, although the application required the receiving party’s e-mail address and used to communicate with users via e-mail, the court still used to send out the divorce petition by Royal Mail, (snail mail??). This was their default method. If you wanted the other person to receive the papers in any other way, you had to make an application.
Most people now want to receive documentation by e-mail – it’s paperless and its immediate. Have the court moved with the times and changed this default method of service? Has the introduction of the new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 made any difference?
Yes and no.
It is important you provide the respondent’s e-mail address so the court can serve documents to them by e-mail. They will receive all correspondence via email. You have to make sure it is not your own e-mail address and is nor is it the other person’s work e-mail address. It needs to be their usual personal e-mail address. If you don’t give an e-mail address, the papers will be served by Royal Mail paper post which of course will take longer.
But, although the court say that all correspondence is sent by e-mail, you still have to provide a postal address too, for two reasons. First, so the court legal staff or judge can see whether or not the person receiving the application lives within the jurisdiction of England & Wales; secondly, so that in addition to sending the application for divorce by e-mail, the court can also send out a paper version of the Notice of Proceedings. If the court just sent the application out by e-mail alone and it had gone into a junk or spam box, it could go unnoticed, so the court have to do their best to bring the application for divorce to attention.
If you can only provide an e-mail address, you’ll still have to make a separate application to the Judge requesting the court’s permission to serve by e-mail only. Separate application…….another court fee……delay…….best avoided if at all possible.
See a solicitor and get it right first time. Contact Susan Devereaux, our Family Solicitor for more information and advice.
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