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Official figures show over 400 people filed for divorce over Christmas

The festive season saw over 400 people file for divorce
Hayden Smith

MORE than 400 people filed for divorce over the festive period – including 13 on Christmas Day, official figures show.

HM Courts & Tribunals Service received 455 online divorce applications from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day, with 13 submitted on December 25.

Since last year, spouses seeking to end their marriage have been able to complete the whole process online.

They can fill in applications, upload required documents and pay fees on the internet without sending off any paperwork.

Statistics released on Friday by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show more than 23,000 online divorce applications have been made since the platform was rolled out in England and Wales in April 2018.

Amanda Major, head of clinical practice at charity Relate, said: "Many people hope that the festive period will be a time of coming together, so when this doesn't happen the sense of failure and sadness can further exacerbate problems that were there in the first place.

"Pressures can build up when people are spending an extended period of time together.

"For some people it might be the additional financial pressure of Christmas that triggers a problem, while for others it could be the stress of trying to keep everyone from the in-laws to the children happy.

"At Relate, we typically see an increase in the number of requests for help in January, and it's important to remember that relationship support and counselling can help people work through their problems."

The introduction of "fully digital" divorces forms part of a £1 billion drive to modernise the justice system.

Overall, the MoJ said more than 150,000 people used online justice services in 2018, taking the total number past 300,000 in the past four years.

As well as divorce, internet platforms were used to lodge 39,250 civil money claims, 7,687 probate applications, 3,358 personal independence payment appeals and 1,431 pleas in fare evasion cases.

In addition, more than 81,000 online pleas were made in relation to low-level motoring offences via a service introduced in 2014.

Justice minister Lucy Frazer said: "These online services are already making a difference to people who use the justice system.

"As we reach this milestone, it's encouraging to see people are reporting these services work well for them and are a better fit around their busy lives."

The MoJ said the services do not replace existing paper-based applications, but provide a quicker, easier route for many people.

They are undergoing further development that will see new functions added to improve public access and efficiency, the department added.

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