Financial remedy consent order applications: mandation of online applications

Stuart ClarkInternational Family Law Group

With mandatory online applications coming into effect on 24 August 2020, family law solicitor Stuart Clarke shares his insight into the new processes and HMCTS's work in digitising services.

Person working on a laptop

As is well known, HMCTS has been digitalising the process of divorce and financial remedy over the last two years, taking many of the previous paper process to an online portal. Great strides have been made over that period and a further stride is being made on Monday 24 August 2020.

As has been well publicised by the Court Service, from that date any financial remedy consent orders agreed upon outside of ongoing financial remedy proceedings must be lodged online via the HMCTS portal.

It must be noted that any paper applications that are received from 24 August will be accepted initially up to 7 September with a reminder to ensure you lodge your application digitally next time. From 7 September these will be returned to you.

The online requirement only applies where the applicant for the order is legally represented and is only for financial remedy orders alongside a divorce. It does not apply to financial orders made alongside civil partnership dissolutions or judicial separations. Those applications remain as paper applications for the time being.

HMCTS has issued Practice Direction 36T, mandating the use of the online service.

My firm, The International Family Law Group LLP, has been involved with these developments since 2018 and the initial pilot of first online divorce and then online financial remedy orders. We issued the first solicitor-represented online divorce and were one of the first few to obtain a financial remedy consent order online.

Our involvement has given me insight into the tremendous work of the HMCTS team in developing the online platform, I am pleased with this latest development and with the fact that we have now reached the point where online submission of financial remedy orders will be the norm.

I appreciate that there may be some scepticism about this development and the new way of working. But the online system is quick and intuitive to use. Applications can be sent to judges electronically, considered, processed and sent back via the portal with either approval or a request for further information. It is all self-contained and remarkably easy to use.

At a time when we are all working remotely, or at least working remotely more often, a completely online, digital and paperless system must be the norm. It will bring a change in the way we work, but this should be embraced.

MyHMCTS

Registering with MyHMCTS is free via its website and usually confirmed within three working days.

Once registered and confirmed as an administrator for their organisation, MyHMCTS users can invite colleagues to create their own accounts, choosing the type of access required for each person.  From their own login, people can then issue new applications, view case details online and take action to progress cases as needed.

To use MyHMCTS, users must have a Pay by Account (PBA) account registered. This account allows you to use the HMCTS Fee Account system to pay for online applications. Set up a PBA account here.

Once registered you will also be able to access the Divorce online service applications too.

Help and support

Guidance is available on the ‘My HMCTS’ platform which guides you on how to make your application and what to expect.

If you do encounter any issues or require any further support then please email the dedicated mailbox: HMCTSFinancialRemedy@justice.gov.uk. The expected response time is three to five working days.