Bury St Edmunds has been proposed as the divorce centre for London and the South East following a review by the Ministry of Justice into family courts.
The Ministry is proposing to consolidate divorce hearings at less than 20 centres and has already designated three locations in the north east.
Currently Triton House in St Andrew’s Street North, which housed the county court, is undergoing refurbishment and once this is done the new divorce centre is expected to be housed there.
However there is concern that the court system in the area is already over stretched and the changes will impact on applicants who will face long waits and long journeys to attend court.
In a Freedom of Informnation response the Ministry states that the Bury building is the most ‘cost effective’ option and big enough to provide improved services.
Liz Hodder, a partner in Gross & Co specialising in family law, said: “The system is groaning at the seams already and there is a lot of overflow of work onto the lawyers. There are also a lot of litigants going to court without legal aid and representing themselves and this takes longer for cases to be heard.
“Unless we have a huge amount of more staff I don’t see how we will deal with the huge amount of work.”
Stephen Williams, head of the family department at Ashton KCJ, said this would mean people having to travel longer distances and there would be increased legal costs as lawyers would have to travel further. Applicants would also have to travel further to centres.
“Courts at the moment are trying to reduce the amount of time people have to wait for hearings and if we are condensing the centres I don’t know how we can make divorce more accessible.”