Sadly, some things in life turn out to be just too good to be true and the promise of a “cheap-quickie” online divorce in just 4 weeks for the bargain price of £17 is another example of this. The headline grabbing price fails to mention that the downloadable forms included can be collected for free from county courts up and down the country; also hidden in the small print is the fact that most petitioners must also pay court fees of £385 (unless the petitioner is in receipt of certain benefits or a very low income).
Members of the public may struggle when completing the forms themselves and mistakes can prove costly later on when further court fees are incurred and delays are caused by having to amend the paperwork. The divorce itself may become complicated particularly if defended or if cross-proceedings are issued. Where difficulties arise, your cheap online service will not take you far and will certainly not afford you the valuable legal advice that you require.
The promised timescale of 4 weeks is simply incorrect. Any divorce lawyer will tell you that a divorce takes a minimum of 3 months from start to finish. All divorces must be processed by our often over-stretched and under-staffed courts and we must abide by our divorce laws. One of those laws provides that a petitioner must wait for a minimum of 6 weeks between the pronouncement of Decree Nisi (the provisional decree) and Decree Absolute (the final decree) unless there are exceptional circumstances. The myth of a “quickie” divorce is spread by journalists hailing the speed with which celebrities are divorced and giving the impression that there is a way to fast-track the usual procedure when, sadly, there isn’t!
For many divorcing couples the main issue is not dissolving the marriage; but resolving the financial matters. Divorcing couples often labour under the misapprehension that once the divorce is finalised everything is resolved and all claims are brought to an end. Unfortunately, that is not the case and unless a financial agreement is put in place claims can still be made in future, even many years after the Decree Absolute is pronounced. The online service may offer a “clean break agreement” for just a few pounds but this does not provide advice on whether this is an appropriate settlement. The financial consequences of signing away financial claims could be disastrous later on.
Online divorce may be a cheap option but could turn out to be a false economy if financial issues are not properly resolved and costly court proceedings are brought in future. A specialist family solicitor can ensure that your divorce and financial settlement are handled professionally and at a fair price.
If you have concerns about divorce or separation please contact us for further advice. All of our family lawyers are qualified solicitors.