New digital divorce service a great step forward but advice still required to conclude financial aspects

18th June 2018

A divorce lawyer at one of Kent's leading law firms has warmly welcomed the introduction of the Government's new online divorce system, in a move that will simplify HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

Laura Sinclair, a Solicitor at leading South East law firm Furley Page, praised modernisation efforts which have digitised the service, making divorce law more accessible and effective.

However, Ms Sinclair highlights that the new online divorce service does not deal with the financial aspects of separation - meaning users should still seek legal advice to ensure their interests are protected.

The new online divorce service for people without legal representation was launched by the Government in May, as part of a £1 billion programme to transform and modernise the Court system.

The new digital service is designed to make the process of applying for a divorce easier to understand and more accessible; applicants are now able to complete their divorce application, upload their documents, pay and submit their petition online.

At present, the online divorce service is only available to parties acting in person, without the assistance of a solicitor, although there are plans to extend the service to enable solicitors to submit a divorce petition on behalf of their client.

Laura Sinclair, Solicitor at Furley Page, said: "Unfortunately many marriages in the UK are fated to end in divorce, with the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics stating that 42% of married couples will legally separate.

“The new online divorce service should be praised for simplifying and streamlining the divorce process, and for drastically cutting the number of divorce applications returned with errors, which is very positive.

"However, the service does not offer applicants any of the really important advice regarding the financial aspects of separation, which are often among the most contentious and emotionally draining issues in any divorce.

"For parties whose financial position is complicated, separating their finances and reaching an agreement can take some time and they are likely to need professional help to protect their interests.

"It is vital that individuals acting in person and without legal advice are aware that without a solicitor to advise on the appropriate completion of the divorce petition, the opportunity to make financial claims in the future could be lost and parties could find that they are not adequately protected – or receive a fair financial settlement.

"Even if couples have agreed the financial settlement between themselves, they will still require legal approval on their financial deal from a court – in a document known as a consent order.

Furley Page offers an Assisted Online Divorce service for those needing the expertise of a solicitor. The service ensures financial claims are included in the divorce petition. For more information on the company’s Assisted Online Divorce service, visit the website: https://www.furleypage.co.uk/personal/family-law/online-assisted-divorce-service/

Laura Sinclair is an expert in all legal aspects of divorce and relationship breakdown. To get in touch with Laura, please call 01227 763939.

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