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Online divorce: is it really the best way forward?

Posted by
20 Nov 2017
Online DivorceNow that we are in the digital age, it was only a matter of time before the concept of online divorce was furthered and improved to a point where it could hopefully overtake the physical process. While the internet is not a legal body and the paperwork still needs to be processed, filling everything out online is set to save the taxpayer approximately £250 million due to reductions in paperwork and processing times. Of course, there are many questions surrounding the concept of online divorce, and many wonder if it really is the best way forward. Here, we look at both sides of the debate as well as what online divorce entails.

How does online divorce work?

The new system will allow all married couples to apply for a divorce online, and the scheme is currently being tested out on three sites by the Ministry of Justice to assess how effective it is when compared to traditional methods. Over time, they plan to expand the service across all sites to make it available to everyone.

Under the current system, divorce is a lengthier process. First, those who are seeking a divorce must fill out paperwork and send it to the court for review. Then, the applicant must fill in a petition, which is then served to their spouse who must agree to the divorce by signing the document, or stating the reason why they contest the divorce. Following this, documentation must be provided which includes the marriage certificate, financial agreements, and the reason for divorce.

With the online process, as long as your divorce is uncontested, you can use what is being called a ‘smart form’ to complete the application process. These forms tailor questions that are based on the circumstances surrounding the breakdown of the marriage – saving a lot of time when it comes to paperwork and processing. The goal of this process is to have divorce become entirely digitised, which is what raises a few questions with regards to the benefits and pitfalls surrounding the concept of online divorce.

The benefits of online divorce

  • The costs can be considerably lower.
  • It often turns out to be a faster and smoother process.
  • It allows you to take things at your own pace.
  • It is easier, and often carries a lot less stress.

The pitfalls of online divorce

  • There are many fraudulent websites for online divorce that could trick you out of money.
  • There is no guarantee that you will not end up in court.
  • You could get divorced without dealing with the financial matters, which can complicate things in the long-term.
  • You might not be fully informed about financial dealings via the online process.

In many ways, online divorce is a very new concept, and so there is time to work out the kinks before it becomes the main form of divorce application (if not the only one). While there are some very strong points for and against the subject, it is a case of time will tell when it comes to determining if it really is the best course of action. 

Right now, there is a lot to think about when it comes to the legal side of things – especially with the risk of getting things wrong – and this is something that the Ministry of Justice will hopefully look into and ensure is done correctly and with the right legal support. Online divorce is something to expect in this age, but we will see if it was the right choice.
For further information about online divorce and how this may affect your role, please contact me by emailing michael.bailey@sellickpartnership.co.uk. Alternatively, browse through our latest family law roles. Browse Roles

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