On-line Shopping, On-line Friendships, On-line Dating, On-line Divorce?

Posted 23 February 2017 by Wendy Brighton

Yes, it’s true that you can find most things that you want on-line including a prospective partner, but is it really true that you can end that relationship in such a cold matter of fact manner as an on-line Divorce?
Well yes, the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has made it quite clear that 2017 will be the year that the official divorce process goes online.

It is not a terribly new concept as Law firms have operated online providing this service for some time- you may have seen adverts such as ‘Get Divorced for as little as £39’ on the internet. Whilst the service provider may offer a good service, it is impossible to get divorced for £39 only as the compulsory court fee is £550.00 to start with; that is unless you are eligible for exemption from fees, a few people are. At least online providers are giving a service in assisting people with the completion of the documentation and pointing the way to avoid pitfalls and difficulties. Litigants in person have been known to still be negotiating with the court for their decree nisi 18 months after the procedure was started!

Many of us, who for a great number of years have been involved with the process, find it difficult to envisage an online divorce with no legally qualified advisor behind the scenes to guide clients through the system- especially on the grounds for Divorce which currently exist. No doubt there would be explanatory notes -as with the government’s website- but interestingly at the end of most pages relating to divorce the government’s website states that a solicitor should be consulted if there are any difficulties.
Perhaps the government are again looking at attempting to bring in the ‘no fault’ divorce. Does this sit well with the public? A few taps on the keyboard, filling in a no-fault form, quick payment by PayPal and your marriage is over?

One of the most recent changes to our administration of Divorce was to lump all cases together from large areas into administrative centres, rather than going direct to your local family court- our Centre is currently Bury St. Edmunds. Unfortunately, the requisite amount of money has not been made available for the funding of these centres and for much of the year the delays are significant and the service poor. It was considered that this system would smooth line the process and manage it in a more cost efficient manner….

So, what will happen when the online divorce process goes into these centres?

The first to try it will be the East Midlands Divorce Centre hosting the online divorce pilot.
The pilot scheme is being introduced in phases. The purpose of this gradual development is to make sure that each stage is sufficiently robust and reliable before moving on to the next. This is encouraging.
I would be interested to hear from anyone who has embarked upon an on-line divorce in the past, with information both of a successful experience or regarding any system that needs further refinements.

I would also be very interested to hear the public’s view on a no-fault system. 

Please e-mail.

Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer a range of legal services at the firm’s Stalham and Wroxham offices near North Walsham and Norwich in Norfolk. The firm specialises in areas including family law, conveyancing and private client law including wills and probate. Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer free family law clinics – please call 01692 581231 for further details or to make an appointment.

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