There’s no hiding from it; divorce can be difficult. Dealing with the emotional fallout when a relationship comes to an end can be hard enough, but add to this the worries surrounding finances and childcare arrangements, that can often go hand in hand with divorce and it’s easy to see how draining the whole process can be.
As specialist divorce solicitors, we see clients every day who are struggling to deal with the emotional roller-coaster that divorce can so often involve, which is why anything that could make the divorce process easier would be welcome news.
The government promises that its new online service will remove the need for paper forms, as the whole divorce process can now be completed online.
In order to help those who are not familiar with the necessary procedures, prompts and guidance are offered when completing the online form in “clear, non-technical language”.
In the testing phase, the government found that 91% of people were satisfied with the service (1,000 petitions were issued during this phase).
It also found that the service had, at that point, contributed to a 95% drop in returned applications due to mistakes, compared to paper forms.
The fee for a divorce remains the same – whether the divorce is applied for via paper forms or online.
The fee remains the same, whether the divorce petition is submitted to the courts via the new online system or through paper forms.
At the time of writing, this stands at £550.
While the method of applying for a divorce will be different (online rather than via paper forms), the overall process itself has not changed. Making an error on a divorce petition can result in unnecessary delays to the divorce process.
It will still be necessary to prove that a marriage has irretrievably broken down (and providing a reason why, also known as ‘grounds for divorce’). We would recommend that individuals always seek independent legal advice before deciding on their grounds for divorce.
Compared to the paper system, the online system is undoubtedly much better at letting individuals know if they have made an error on their divorce application. However, it will not be able to spot every single mistake. There will, of course, be some errors that will ‘slip through the net’, causing delays that may have been able to be avoided.
We would always recommend individuals to, at the very least, get a solicitor to look through their divorce application (whether it is online or on paper), to ensure that no mistakes have been made that could result in additional frustration and worry.
We will finish this article as we started it; divorce can be difficult. Seeking independent legal advice and getting your solicitor to deal with the paperwork, could help the process to run more smoothly, so that you can focus on beginning to move on with your life.
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