What is an online divorce?
People are often concerned about the cost of a divorce, and can be attracted by claims in search engine results for 'cheap online divorces'. We've even seen companies claiming they can do an online divorce for £37. These adverts are misleading because, firstly, everyone must pay the £550 divorce fee, whether they do it online or not (unless they qualify for Legal Aid) and, secondly, these companies probably don't offer the sound legal advice you would receive from a solicitor. However, for many people an online divorce can be a legitimate means of ending their marriage and it can avoid delays in the court service, which only add more stress.
Her Majesty's Court and Tribunal Service have previously reported that their teams across the country were spending over 13,000 hours per year to just check and reject divorce petitions. 40% of paper divorce petitions were being rejected due to errors on the petitions from people trying a 'do it yourself' divorce. In response they made it possible for you to file your own divorce online via the .gov website: https://www.apply-divorce.service.gov.uk/index. The rejection rate for online petitions is now 1%.
How does online divorce work?
Before petitioning for divorce you need to register and create an account on the .gov website. You will then be guided through a series of questions, the majority of which are either multiple choice or answered via a drop-down menu.
You will be asked to double check the content of your petition before submitting it. Upon submitting your petition you will be asked to pay the court fee (£550). The petition is issued by the court and sent to the respondent (your husband or wife).
What do you need for an online divorce?
To apply for an online divorce, you will need:
- Your husband or wife's full name and address
- Your original marriage certificate or a certified copy
- Proof of your name change if you changed it since you got married e.g. your marriage certificate or a deed poll
Tips for completing an online divorce
For many couples the online system will present a swift, cost effective and useful mechanism to petition for divorce. However, it is advisable to seek legal advice prior to completing the online form to ensure you complete the form correctly.
For example, you will need to confirm the reason for your divorce. There are certain requirements for divorce in the England and Wales and you must be sure you need these requirements and can prove it to a court. You may also wish to apply for a financial order for you and your children and might want to apply for your spouse to pay the costs of the divorce suit. A solicitor can help you with this prior to completing the form.
In some circumstances you may consider your divorce to be an international matter i.e. if you got married abroad. If this is the case, you should seek advice from a solicitor before completing the online form.
If you're considering divorce or have any questions about the online divorce process please contact us in London (West Drayton) on 01895 449288 or in Hertfordshire (St Albans) on 01727 840900 or by email via our contact page.