02 February 2018
Is it Sensible to Opt for a Quickie Divorce?
Whether it’s booking holidays online or scanning your own shopping at the supermarket – the beauty of modern life is how much easier things are these days.
So it’s no surprise that plans are being drawn up to streamline the divorce system which will see couples fill out a ten-page tick box form detailing the money and assets they each want.
The new system is believed to be a step towards the courts’ long-term goal of a “digital divorce” where married couples who want to split up will be able to make it official online.
The proposals, led by Sir James Munby, which also include newly-established 'Financial Remedies Courts' who would use the forms to rule on the financial side of a divorce, have been hotly debated in the media.
While I can understand that people have less time in their day and want to take the easy option where possible, is that really a priority when it comes to divorce?
The termination of a marriage or civil partnership and reorganisation of the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage isn’t something that can be sorted by ticking a few boxes.
And if you do choose that option, how do you know if you’re getting a good deal without a legal expert fighting your corner?
For example, if Mr X wants to issue divorce proceedings, he can say he wants to provide £200 per month to his ex-wife. He’d be asked if he owned any properties and so on and would tick yes or no for example.
His wife may feel happy with this deal but how will she feel in 20 years when she has no pension but her ex-husband is still living quite comfortably?
I realise that cutting the archaic paper trail and moving things online is beneficial in some respects but beyond that I am dubious.
As any family lawyer will tell you, mistakes can and do get made and so in practice it pays to understand what you’re doing and get it right first time.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service initially piloted a scheme last year which enabled people to apply for a divorce online, print off the form and send it to court.
The service is now being extended so that people can submit a form, send relevant documents and make payments. According to the Law Gazette, in the first week the service received 130 online applications.
They say the measures are drastically cutting the number of applications returned because of errors and says it has received positive feedback from users.
I suppose only time will tell as to how successful it will be.
Kaleel Anwar is a family lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
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