Could divorce become ‘click and collect’?

Published: 16th May, 2016

Harrogate based Family lawyer, Tim Mellors, looks at the pro’s and con’s of the much touted online divorce.

Divorce cases could begin shifting almost entirely online by 2017, Sir James Munby, the country’s top Family Law judge, announced recently.

“Faced with ever-increasing numbers of litigants in person, the court process must strive to improve, to streamline and to simplify the system,” he said. “In future, applicants, who will often be unrepresented, will issue proceedings online through an online questionnaire which would capture all relevant information in a user-friendly way”.

There is certainly a case for a quicker and more efficient process which would reduce the stress for separating spouses. An online system could be very helpful where there is agreement between a divorcing couple. On the other hand, marriage may be devalued by making divorce too easy.

It is questionable whether divorce should become part of our click and collect society. Many people meet online and they will be able to divorce in the same way.

Whilst the law needs to continue to evolve as it has done for centuries, people require the guidance and support of an experienced family law professional at a crucial point in their lives. Decisions made on family break-up have long-lasting impact. The role and involvement of the family lawyer is now more as strategist, guide, expert and mentor, with many people dealing with parts of the process themselves as the court system has become more accessible.

However sometimes it all seems too easy. Recently a husband was fined and found guilty of bigamy after his wife saw pictures of him marrying another woman on Facebook.

He had paid £6oo for an online divorce and believed he had successfully dissolved his first marriage and was free to remarry. But he hadn’t completed the paperwork correctly, meaning that he was still married to his first wife!

There is no doubt the law, like most of the things we do today, will use online services to assist the process, and perhaps Sir James Munby
was right when he concluded “When it has been done, we will at last have escaped from a court system still in too large part moored in the world of the late Mr Charles Dickens.”

This article just provides an overview of the law in this area. You should talk to our Family Law team for a complete understanding of how it may affect your particular circumstances.

Call Tim now on 01423 851 126 or email to arrange a call with the Family law experts at LCF Law today.