About this blog

Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Monday 11 September 2017

Divorce On Line

There's not much these days that you can't get on line. "You can't get a divorce, Gold, you fool." Gold not so much the fool as you thought. By the spring of 2019 it should be possible to complete all documentation on line from start to finish to secure a divorce, civil partnership dissolution, nullity or judicial separation provided the case is not contested. Any arguments about the children or property and maintenance will continue to be dealt with as at present with an almost certain need to go to court. It's the securing of your freedom through a divorce etc decree that I am talking about. 

The full on line procedure is being introduced gradually. Currently, you usually start your case by completing the petition off line and sending it by post to one of the divorce centres scattered around England and Wales. As from 31 July 2017 anyone  - and not just a few - starting a case in the East Midlands regional divorce centre in Nottingham has been able to complete the petition on line, download it and then send it to the centre. Completion is made easier by user-friendly questions and triggers as you go along. This facility was extended to the West Midlands centre based in Stoke last week and at the beginning of next month it will hit the South West centre in Southampton. You should be able to patronise a centre even though you live off its patch.

In the coming months the process will be extended to allow the petition to be issued as well as completed on line and for you to pay the issue fee on line without having to strain yourself to download the petition, affix a stamp to an envelope,  put it in an envelope and pop along to a postbox. Much easier, in fact, than getting married. Ultimately, all the other stages in the process including the application for the final decree - the decree absolute - will be dealt with on line too.

For the time being the on line procedure will not be available where the marriage was celebrated outside England and Wales but that looks set to change in due course.

So do you need a solicitor or barrister to secure the divorce as opposed to representing you on other issues? The new scheme should make legal representation less necessary. Frankly, almost everyone should be able to cope on their own with starting the case on line. Where there is doubt about which divorce etc ground to rely on or it is believed that the other party is likely to defend the case then legal help could be desirable. Are your allegations of unreasonable sufficient to secure a divorce? Is there any point in naming the person with whom your spouse has committed adultery? Can you rely on two years' separation with your partner's consent when you have been living under the same roof during that time? These are among some of the points on which you might need legal help. Of course, you can always find the answer in that book. Now, what was it called? Oh, I remember. Breaking Law.