Online divorce – Not as straightforward as taking down your Christmas decorations
Julie-Ann Harris warns those using the online portal of the perils of not getting a proper binding agreement in place.
I was fortunate enough to take part in the initial testing stages of the new online divorce facility with HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS), and it was reassuring to see that the online service allowing people to issue their own divorce petitions is providing a valuable and user friendly option.
Today, HMCTS published that 455 applications for divorce were filed between 24 December and 1 January – with 13 submitted on Christmas Day itself. Clearly, the festive period provided ample opportunity to utilise this new service.
However, what is not clear from the recent statistics is whether or not the users of the online portal are aware that, in order to provide certainty for their financial future, they should take steps to have a binding agreement in place to sort out who gets what in a divorce. It might be that of the 455 people who issued proceedings during the festive exeat, no one owns property or has a pension, but I would be very surprised if that was the case.
If there is one piece of wisdom I can impart, it is to make sure to protect yourself financially, even after the dust has settled in the divorce.
There is little point completing the divorce – which is technically a straightforward paper exercise – if you do not do everything in your power to make sure that once you are divorced, you are not a fiscal hostage to expectation and responsibility. If you have nothing, you might take that risk. If you have everything, you may end up with nothing if you do not safeguard your potential or reality.
Whilst it is liberating to deal with certain aspects of divorce yourself, bringing in an expert divorce lawyer will not only save you money, but it also gives you the chance to invest in the best advice you can buy to put in place an agreement that will give you both future certainty and security.