Earlier this month, the Ministry of Justice launched the new Online Divorce Service as part of its £1bn initiative to reform the justice system. This new service allows couples to apply for an uncontested divorce digitally, upload evidence and make payments from their homes. By allowing divorces to be completed at the click of a mouse removes the need to fill in paper forms and send them to the court manually.
The new service can be used by anyone in England and Wales wishing to apply for a divorce without legal representation. At the moment the Ministry of Justice is still developing an online application to be used by legal professionals to submit a petition for a client online.
On one hand the move to digital friendly service means couples save on professional costs and time. This simple and less technical service has said to have contributed to a ‘95% drop’ in the number of applications being returned due to mistakes. However it is important to note that the fees associated with applying for a divorce remain the same whether applying using the paper or digital routes.
However, family law is complex and applying for a divorce online may not be as straight forward in certain situations. During initial appointments with solicitors, husbands and wives would typically be advised about severing their ‘joint tenancy’ in relation to their matrimonial home. The reason for this is that it is important to understand how your ‘share’ in a property is reflected in law. By opting to use the online divorce service, couples are denying themselves of important details that a solicitor would usually provide. (For more information about severing your joint tenancy please see our Joint Tenancy page).
Furthermore, when applying online for a divorce, couples may not considered important financial factors such as pension sharing. It is often the case that a couple will finalise their divorce without coming to an agreement in relation to their pensions and once remarried, couples will lose their right to a pension-sharing order.
It is important for individuals intending to use the Online Divorce Service without prior legal advice to know that simply obtaining a divorce does not automatically deal with their financial arrangements. Without legal advice on completing a divorce petition, the opportunity to make financial claims in the future could be lost and couples may find that they are not protected. If you would like to discuss applying for divorce, or any other matter relating to family law, please do get in touch with our Family Department who will be happy to help: firstname.lastname@example.org.