Posted by Julia Robson on 25th April 2023
Divorce online – Beware of the hidden dangers

The divorce application has been simplified but should not be approached as a tick box exercise by divorcing couples warns family lawyer Julia Robson.

Access to the online divorce portal and the introduction of no-fault divorce has assisted people to navigate the waters of the divorce process more easily and with significant costs savings.

Following the breakdown of their marriages, many people will have financial issues which will need to be resolved within the divorce process. Whilst many may submit their divorce application online without seeking legal advice, if they fail to tick the correct boxes when submitting their application, this may affect an applicant’s ability to pursue relevant financial claims within the divorce proceedings. This could result in the need to seek costly legal advice to rectify the error.

If the parties to the marriage decide to submit the divorce application online, this may give rise to the view that there is no need to then seek a family lawyer’s advice to assist in resolving the financial issues and obtaining the appropriate Financial Order. A Financial Order will ensure that both parties can move forward with their lives secure in the knowledge that the divorce and financial issues have been concluded legally.

A more serious outcome of an error being made in the online divorce application is related to the section where applicants must tick the correct box to confirm that the court has jurisdiction, or legal authority, to issue the divorce application. If completed incorrectly this mistake could affect the validity of the orders made within the divorce proceedings. Confusion may arise when deciding which box to tick correctly to indicate a person’s domicile or place of habitual residence. This legal terminology introduces into the online divorce process terms which may require an explanation, and guidance, from a family lawyer to ensure that the correct box is ticked.

Whilst family lawyers have welcomed the simplification of the online divorce process, there remain concerns that the availability of this online divorce process may lead people to avoid seeking appropriate advice at an early stage, which may result in costly and potentially serious errors being made from the outset of the divorce proceedings.

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Julia Robson is a Senior Associate Solicitor at The Family Law Company. She supports clients through all aspects of family law but with a particular specialism in high-asset value Divorce and Finance cases.

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