Since April 2018, it has been possible to file a divorce petition online. This new process received considerable publicity recently when it was revealed that hundreds of people applied online for a divorce over Christmas, including 13 on Christmas Day.
What is an online divorce?
Applying for a divorce online means that you do not need to complete and send to the court a divorce petition form; instead you answer questions online and a divorce petition is automatically generated. The fee for both a paper application and on-line application is £550.
Only the divorce petition can be completed online. The rest of the divorce process continues to be off-line.
What happens next?
The court will send the divorce petition to your spouse and they must complete and send to the court an acknowledgement form. The court will send you a copy and you must then fill in more forms to apply for the decree nisi (the first decree of divorce) and then, after six weeks from the date of the decree nisi, you may apply for the decree absolute.
Is an online divorce quicker?
Not really. It is slightly quicker to complete the divorce petition questions online than to fill in a petition form and the information will reach the court a day or two sooner, but you still have to wait to apply for the decrees nisi and absolute – which means, in practice, that the process is never quicker than 12-16 weeks.
Finances are dealt with separately
A divorce ends the legal contract of marriage only; it does not automatically give you a financial clean break. Finances must be dealt with separately, but it is an associated application – on Form A.
An advantage of the online system is that is makes it a lot clearer to the public that a separate financial application needs to be made if a divorcing couple wish to ensure that their respective financial claims against one another are to be dismissed, rather than remaining open.
Do I still need a solicitor?
The online system makes it easier to apply for a divorce without using a solicitor, although the system for applying for a divorce has been fairly user-friendly for a while now. Nevertheless, we recommend that you see a solicitor for general advice if you are contemplating divorce so that you take all necessary steps to protect yourself and your family before a petition is submitted. You should also seek specialist legal advice to ensure you get the right financial order to give you peace of mind for the future.
If you would like to discuss, in complete confidence, any issue relating to actual or potential family breakdown, whether it be divorce, a cohabitation dispute, disputes over children or money matters, then please contact Sarah Jackson on 01225 462871 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org