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Average divorce now takes longer than a year for first time as

Kate Ryan, a family lawyer and partner at IBB Solicitors, said: “The specialist divorce centres set up in 2015 are not functioning effectively and undoubtedly this was not what was envisaged by the MoJ when they were established.“Unfortunately, many of these centres are now experience high volumes of divorce work resulting in a large backlog of work. This means the court process for dealing with documents is taking longer than ever.”“This impacts upon people who are waiting for their divorce to move forward so they can finally move on with their lives,” Ms Ryan added. “The delay is often compounded by a lack of communication from the court and the difficulty people experience in speaking with someone at the court about their case.”The family lawyer called on the MoJ to increase family court resources, saying that delays on such “sensitive and important matters impact upon the whole family”.The family court statistics were compiled by Wilsons, a private client law firm, and showed a steady increase in waiting time for couples. For the third quarter of 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, couples had to wait 48.06 weeks, 48.64 weeks, 47.31 weeks. 47.36 weeks, 49.14 weeks and 56.04 weeks, respectively.While the latest statistics for the fourth quarter of 2018 show a slight decrease – to 54.3 weeks – Jacqueline Fitzgerald, partner and head of the Family team at Wilsons said it is unacceptable that couples wanting to divorce are still forced to wait more than a year.She said: “These delays are enormously difficult for divorcing couples – they are stuck in limbo, unable to move on with their lives until the courts finally get around to dealing with them.”“For the average wait for a divorce to pass the one-year barrier for the first time is a very worrying sign for the family courts.”“The Regional Divorce Centres have had a very difficult first three years, and the problems are getting worse, not better. Remember that 56 weeks is the average wait for a divorce – many take much longer than that.”She added that the impact of austerity on government funding is only set to have further detrimental impact on the efficacy of the family courts.Treasury figures reveal that the MoJ’s will be slashed to £6 billion in 2019/20, down from £6.3 billion in 2018/19. By 2023/24, it is predicted to have halved in little more than a decade.A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service said:”Cases are being dealt with quicker since we increased the no of judicial sitting days and recruited extra judges and staff to meet increased demand in the family court.“We also recently announced online divorce applications to simplify the process and help reduce the delay.”   Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Married couples are having to wait longer than a year before being granted a divorce, new data reveals, as family lawyers blame the government for increasing delaysFor the first time, family court figures reveal that couples can now expect to wait up to 56 weeks until their divorce is finalised. This is in comparison to 2013 when the average wait from petition to Decree Absolute was 48 weeks.The slump in the rate of Decree Absolutes being increased comes following reforms introduced by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in 2015 which aimed to streamline the system, cut costs and save judicial time.Prior to 2015, couples wanting to divorce had to go to one of 47 regional courts across the country. These were then centralised into just 11 Regional Divorce Centres. However legal experts claim that couples are now left “in limbo”, and that the latest data shows how the reforms have backfired.

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