Since December 2019, legal professionals have had the ability to make applications for a divorce and progress the matter to Decree Absolute on behalf of their clients. This process was later expanded to allow legal professionals to file consent orders. The changes have made both processes quicker and easier for all parties involved.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service have now confirmed that, from early September 2021, the digital divorce process will become compulsory. This means that the online process must be used instead of the much-outdated paper application which was in use before December 2019.
However, there are some exceptions to using the digital online service. The paper process should still be used for those matters concerning civil partnerships, judicial separation and nullity proceedings.
How will this change my divorce if I decide to instruct a solicitor?
The changes will mean the process involved for applying for a divorce will be more streamlined and less cumbersome. For example, there is no need to supply and send to the court your original marriage certificate. Previously, original marriage certificates had to be included in the paper form process which were then never returned by the court to the person applying for a divorce.
Will the online process be quicker?
Yes, it will be. However, there will also be an increase in those applying for divorces online from September 2021 and we anticipate the time for the court to issue a divorce petition will rise. As a result, this may not necessarily mean that divorcing online will be quicker than the traditional paper application method.
Is the online process cheaper?
The cost for filing a divorce petition is currently £550. This is the same regardless of whether it is done online or via a paper application. In situations where parties decide to handle the divorce themselves without legal representation or without the benefit of legal advice, the cost of filing online may be slightly cheaper. This is because the parties will not have the costs of a solicitor drafting the court papers for them.
However, there is always a risk that couples who are divorcing online will still fall into dangerous traps if they do not have the benefit of legal advice throughout the process. Therefore, obtaining sound legal advice from the outset, on the whole process and the steps involved, may well save the parties stress, time and money.