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Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to divorce on Christmas day

Our People - Loretta Orsi-Barzanti
28 January, 2019

400 people filed for divorce between Christmas Eve and New Years’ day, 13 of which filed for divorce on Christmas Day itself. In my opinion, those are big numbers, especially at a time of year which is known for “family time”.

Most people will remember the days when you couldn’t even get a pint of milk on Christmas day, let alone be able to issue a whole set of divorce proceedings. But, Christmas is also known as a time for presents. So, let’s face it, for those 13 people issuing divorce proceedings on Christmas Day it might be the best Christmas present they could have given themselves. And to those people, I applaud you.

How, you may ask, are you able to do such wizardry?

The. Internet.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the internet but it makes me feel quite sad on so many different levels that you can issue divorce proceedings on Christmas Day by hopping online and filling out a quick form.

In April 2018, online divorces were officially launched which means that you can issue proceedings at the touch of a button. You have to pay the fee of £550 online and submit documents as required.

Since they were launched in April 2018, there have been more than 23,000 online divorces submitted. That is a lot of divorces. A. LOT.

The general procedure of progressing the divorce is the same – issuing the petition, the court sending it to the other party by post, making the application for Decree Nisi and then applying for the Decree Absolute. The only difference is that you start the process online and can submit further documents online throughout the lifetime of the case.

Whilst the online process clearly has its benefits and place in society, in my view, there is no comparison to the traditional method (which is still available, thankfully!). Those who have used the online system report that it works well and it fits around their busy lives. Others say it limits the errors that can be made on the form.

I’ve seen a few divorce petitions that have been issued on line, and I can say with certainty, that for some people, it definitely does not limit the errors that can be made on the form. In one case, the form was not filled in correctly. AT. ALL. And the particulars of unreasonable behaviour literally comprised the same two words repeated three times.  It didn’t give any idea of why they wanted to get divorced. I felt like I needed Poirot on-board just to make any sense of the contents.

What the online version does not allow for is knowing exactly how to fill the form in correctly, or getting the right advice for your particular set of circumstances. Not all divorces are created equal and there really are some situations where you should probably hold-off firing up your laptop and issuing your divorce proceedings before getting some advice.

Going to see a solicitor, to see what is going to be right for you in your particular case, is often necessary and will likely make the whole process quicker.

There is clearly an audience for the “online divorce” and it has most certainly taken off but it’s not fool proof. My advice? Proceed with caution.

I’m pretty sure that there will be a movement towards a completely online procedure for divorces, moving away from the traditional methods – something which has been witnessed across all types of things, from retail, to services such as booking a taxi or getting a takeaway. Its only a matter of time before the legal profession catches up.

If you need to see a solicitor about issuing divorce proceedings or about getting a divorce in general, please call Loretta Orsi-Barzanti on 020 8492 2290 or email at lob@gnlaw.co.uk

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