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Online Divorces – Why you still need a solicitor

All married couples have been able to start the application process for an uncontested divorce online since October last year with the launch of a new system by the Ministry of Justice. Using a ‘smart form’ that looks at the circumstances for the marriage breakdown, people can complete an online divorce petition, print it off and send the form to the Court. This month the service has been fully digitised in some areas, allowing people to complete all of the divorce application process online.

Divorce can be a relatively straight forward process, but this is not always so; we have recently seen the case of Mrs Owens hit headlines in 2017, where her application to get out of a “loveless marriage” after 40 years was denied.[1] The greater concern amongst family solicitors is that a self-service online divorce application process can see people rushing through the process without considering greater implications. One important issue is for those separating to sort out their finances at the time of the divorce, having a final order given at the same time as divorce proceedings. Another important consideration is the need for complete accuracy in the application process – failure to do so could prejudice future financial claims.

It is not unusual for couples that separate to agree on the division of assets; the family home may be sold and the parties agree on how they would like to divide the proceeds. Sometimes one party will choose to stay in the family home, in which case they might remortgage to buy the other person out of their share in the property. With this type of arrangement, there is often the mistaken belief that matters are sorted and each person can move on with their new lives.

What happens, though, in six months or two-, five- or  10-years’ time when one party has fared well and the other party has not? The answer is that unless a final order from the Court was obtained regarding finances, it is potentially open for either party to make a claim for financial relief against the other. Whilst remarriage does affect the claims available to them it does not preclude an application in relation to the other person’s pension.

Specialist advice from your family solicitor may protect your future, giving you complete peace of mind that you free to move on with your new life. If you have concerns about your divorce application or would like help with any family law matter, please contact Associate Solicitor Jane Chandler on 0121 685 8126 or


[1] Owen Bowcott, ‘Woman “trapped in loveless marriage” after judges refuse divorce’, Guardian UK (24 March 2017).

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