In short, no. Earlier in 2018, the Government added the ability to file a divorce petition to its website and this featured in the news over the Christmas period as well as on the media created ‘divorce day’ in January.
In the period after Christmas there is a traditional spike in applications for divorce. Many people know that their marriage has broken down in the run up to Christmas but decide that they will not upset the children, nor the usual Christmas family arrangements and therefore do not proceed with a divorce until the New Year.
In the nine months since the Government’s online divorce programme went live, some 25,000 people have issued their divorce petitions online. Even in the period between Christmas and New Year some 455 people issued divorce proceedings and on Christmas Day itself, 13 people used the internet portal to begin their divorce.
This is not as odd as it may sound. Christmas Day may have been the only free day when these people were not working; they may have issued the documents in the early hours of Christmas morning when they had put the presents under the tree. Perhaps they are not religious and do not celebrate Christmas or perhaps the children were celebrating Christmas with their spouse and therefore they had the free time to think and to issue the divorce proceedings.
It is all very well issuing the Divorce Petition online, but there is much more to a divorce than simply dissolving the marriage. Since the case of Owens and Owens last year, the court is taking a harder line with regard to petitions for unreasonable behaviour. In addition most people own properties or have pensions all of which need to be dealt with following a divorce. If these assets are in joint names or left to deal with in the future, then problems are bound to occur, for example if they go up in value following a divorce.
It is essential that anyone who has some assets, however few, take proper legal advice before issuing divorce proceedings. The financial aspects following a divorce are not straightforward as each case is individual.
It is therefore extremely important and much less publicised that the financial aspects are in fact the most complex aspect of the divorce and need to be dealt with properly after a party has taken independent legal advice from a solicitor specialising in family law.
If you think you may need advice about a divorce, please contact a member of the family team who will be able to help.