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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

Sunday 6 May 2018

Fancy A Divorce?Then Go Online And Click Away !

They have been trying out allowing some of you after a divorce to be able to start the process online and to pay the court fee online (see http://www.breakinglaw.co.uk/2017/09/divorce-on-line.html). They have been happy with the results of the trials and so, last week, the online facility was opened up to everyone in England and Wales. It will not yet be available to solicitors who are acting for divorce petitioners but only to petitioners doing it for themselves. Solicitors will be brought in soon but, for the time being, litigants in person are in a favoured position. In due course, the whole divorce process will be capable of management on line so long as the case is undefended.

The online case will be handled at one of four of the regional divorce centres based in Nottingham, Stoke (despite their relegation from the Premier League), Liverpool and Southampton and the court fee will be the same online as off line: that's £550 unless you successfully ask for the fee to be remitted because you are on benefits or otherwise down and out. You start off online by going to https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-divorce.

Todays' Sunday Times carried a muddled explanation of the divorce process. It won't be necessary for an account to be given of 'wealth and income' or 'arrangements for the children' as suggested in order to procure the divorce. Those subjects will come alive if and only if there is an application by one party for a financial remedy such as maintenance or there are proceedings under the Children Act 1989 about the welfare of the children. Financial applications might possibly lead to the final divorce decree - the decree absolute - being delayed but children issues will not do so. You can't start the divorce process until you have been married for at least one year. There have been some cases where divorce cases have been started before the first year was up and decrees have been obtained. These decrees are nullities as will be any remarriage which has taken place on the strength of them. Fresh proceedings will be needed to put the situation right.

Say your husband or wife want to defend the case? No change in the law there but on 17 May 2018 the Supreme Court is due to consider what conduct should be necessary to establish that you spouse has been guilty of unreasonable behaviour which is one of the divorce grounds. I've looked at the case with you in an earlier blog (see http://www.breakinglaw.co.uk/2017/08/will-wife-gain-freedom-from-marriage.html). You can watch the hearing online on the day but the Supreme Court's decision is likely to be  announced  subsequently after the judges have pondered their decision over their fish and chips and pickled onions.

Plenty on divorce and how to tackle financial remedy applications for both sides in my book Breaking Law.