Pitfalls of using online divorce petition

Pitfalls of using online divorce petition

Since May 2018 those wishing to file for a divorce from their spouse have been able to do so online through a portal on the government website. Sir James Munby, the Judge in charge of the High Court’s Family Division at the time of the launch, described online divorce as a “triumphant success” and “final proof positive that whatever people think, government can do IT [information technology]”.

Whilst issuing divorce proceedings online may be considered a cheaper option and improves access to the judicial system for many, by not seeking advice from a solicitor divorcing couples may unknowingly be putting their overall financial position at risk.

Unknown to many, the online divorce process does not currently allow couples to sever their financial ties to each other so that, even after they are divorced, their financial claims against each other will remain open. This means that, for example, if one party won the lottery the day after their divorce, then their former spouse may still be successful in a claim for a share of their winnings. Similarly, if one party owns a property which increases in value beyond the other party’s property, the other party may pursue a share of the equity in the higher value property.

Even if divorcing parties have no dependent children and there are no significant financial matters to resolve, in order for them to protect their future income and capital, they should obtain a Financial Order from the Court recording the terms of their settlement. Only after obtaining such an Order can divorcing parties be assured that any financial claims by virtue of their marriage have been dismissed.

If you are intending to make use of the online divorce process please contact us to book a no obligation appointment with one of our experienced team of family law solicitors to obtain advice as to how you can ensure your assets are protected.