Can I issue a Divorce online myself?
Posted on 19th February 2020
Many of our clients come to us and ask: “Can I deal with my divorce myself, online?”. The short answer is: yes, you can issue your own divorce, online, without the assistance of a local family solicitors. Unsurprisingly, “DIY Divorce” is becoming more and more popular. However, many people are still choosing to instruct their local solicitors, to ensure that the process is carried out correctly (such as our hundreds of family clients who instruct yearly in relation to divorce and related matters).
Online applications only opened in 2015, and over 23,000 divorce petitions have been submitted using the online service, the majority of whom are representing themselves. The process was set up for this very purpose: provide access to justice and the legal system for those in unhappy marriages, whilst preventing some of the costs incurred through legal fees.
However, our team of local family solicitors would explain that, whilst it can seem like the cheap option to DIY your divorce, the family law system is complicated and any mistakes made can have implications later on in your life.
One potential error when dealing with a divorce in person (i.e. without the assistance of your local family solicitors), is on what basis you issue the petition. Without legal advice, many people would not be aware of the legal implications of issuing a divorce petition based on a specific fact, such as adultery. You may think ‘Well, my spouse cheated on me – I know it!’. Unfortunately, this must be proven to the Court before the petition would be allowed to succeed on this basis.
If the petition gets knocked back by the Court, for example because there is not enough proof of unreasonable behaviour, or the other party does not consent to a divorce based on two years’ separation, this could add to costs, cause delays, and lead to you feeling frustrated with the whole process. Likewise, if you and your spouse were amicable when you separated, the added issues with the divorce could cause tension, and lead to your communication breaking down – something that most family solicitors would suggest that you avoid, wherever possible!
A common misconception, which our team of family solicitors in Lancaster have talk about in our blog, here, is that the finalisation of a divorce equals the finalisation of all financial ties. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! Unfortunately, just because your divorce is finalised, it doesn’t mean that you have no claim against each other.
You could live apart, divorced, for forty years and then one day you receive a letter through the post, attempting to make a claim against your new property and your lottery winnings.
In this respect, professional legal advice is highly advisable when you are getting divorced.
A third large error is the ‘re-marriage trap’. When you re-marry, generally you lose the ability to make a claim for financial provision against your spouse. You may think this won’t matter. However, if your property is owned in the sole name of your spouse, but you had lived there for 30 years and you paid for everything, you could lose your right to claim.
So, if you decide that you wish to deal with your divorce yourself (DIY divorce, as it’s known), then that’s absolutely fine. However, it may be useful to arrange an initial 30-minute consultation with our team to get some initial legal advice, before making your decision.
MG Legal – Your Local Solicitors
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