Today we do all sorts of things online; shopping, booking holidays, gambling, and a whole host of other things. It has now reached the point where people are also trying to do their own divorces online, or at least using the forms that are available from websites. The motivation for doing this is usually the assumption that it will save legal costs. However, there are a number of problems and pitfalls which anyone needs to keep in mind when contemplating this course of action. The main problems can be summarised as follows:-
(1) The divorce itself is usually quite a straightforward procedure, but this is often because solicitors for both parties have agreed beforehand how it will be handled so there are no nasty surprises. Furthermore, the divorce papers need to be exactly accurate, or they will be rejected by the courts.
(2) Divorce often raises disputes between the parties concerning the arrangements for the children. These cannot be resolved online.
(3) Divorce also often raises problems and disputes concerning property and money. Contrary to popular belief, the pronouncement of the Decree Absolute does not dismiss the financial claims. Additional court documentation and advice is needed on the very important issue, which is generally overlooked in the packaged online divorce.
(4) Even prior to divorce, separation can raise important issues such as taxation, inheritance and the preparation of new wills. These often need to be addressed before divorce proceedings have started.
Divorce and the matters arising often raise important long-term legal issues. These can usually be resolved with proper professional advice, with agreements recorded correctly. However, if this is not done, it will inevitably mean that larger problems arise in the future. Most solicitors who deal with divorce and other family cases are members of ‘Resolution’ which aims to resolve disputes by agreement through negotiation, rather than through confrontation and litigation. The best thing that a person can do who is considering separation or divorce is to seek proper independent legal advice at an early stage.