England’s biggest regional divorce centre hit by record delays

Delays at the England’s biggest regional divorce centre reached unprecedented levels in 2018.

Figures obtained by the Law Gazette found the average waiting times for each stage of the divorce process at Bury St Edmunds increased significantly last year, confirming many lawyers’ concerns about the centre’s ability to cope.

Bury St Edmunds is the main centre for divorces from London and the south-east. However, since opening as one of 11 regional centres in 2015, it has been a constant source of antagonism for divorcing couples and their lawyers.

According to the Law Gazette, figures provided by HM Courts & Tribunals Service, in response to a freedom of information request, reveal it took 373 days on average from the issue of petition to decree absolute in 2018 (up to the end of September). This was a 9% increase from 2017.

The eight-day wait for issuing the petition has more than doubled in a year, while the average time from issuing of petition to decree nisi has increased 17% to an average of 195 days.

HMCTS told the Law Gazette, “More broadly, we have increased the number of sitting days available in family courts in order to meet demand, while our online divorce service is speeding up the application process significantly.”

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