With the introduction of no-fault divorce on 6 April 2022 and the move to the online divorce portal in 2018, it may seem that getting a divorce is now a simple online process with little assistance required. However, B P Collins’ family team explain why it might not be as straightforward as that.
Avneet Chahal, trainee family solicitor, B P Collins says:
The removal of the need to set out the behaviour, which has caused the marriage to come to an end, and instead proceed on a no-fault basis, means that the applying party simply needs to declare that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, without the requirement for particulars. The reasons for defending the divorce have also been limited and now focus on jurisdictional issues rather than disagreements about the facts.
On the face of it, many people may think they can engage with the online process themselves without the need for assistance. However, divorce can often become complicated and whilst a divorcing couple may begin the process with the same intention, things can often change as the divorce progresses. There are also a number of issues that should be dealt with during the divorce process, which is why it is best to seek specialist legal advice at the outset.
It is often the case, and it is advisable that finances are settled at the time of divorce. This can include back and forth discussions between the parties, with a view to reaching an agreement away from court which both are satisfied with. There is usually a need for financial disclosure so that an accurate representation of each parties’ jointly and separately owned assets can be considered and a fair settlement is reached.
Reaching an agreement in respect of financial matters can often be complicated and the involvement of a specialist family lawyer can bring a clearer perspective to negotiations. A family lawyer can assist in ensuring that divorce and financial matters are dealt with in coherence. It is best practice to hold off on applying for the final order (previously referred to as the decree absolute) until financial matters have concluded, and a financial settlement should be formalised by way of a consent order and submitted to the court. It is therefore important that divorcing parties are aware of the stages which follow within divorce and financial proceedings.
During the divorce process, disputes may arise in respect of issues surrounding how much time the children spend with each parent, handovers, and so on. It is essential to always put the needs of the child first, and therefore, correspondence between solicitors can often result in formal arrangements being agreed in writing.
Whilst the process for obtaining a divorce has been simplified by the removal of the need to place the blame on one party and being able to obtain a divorce through the online HMCTS portal, there are still various issues which can arise as a result of divorce and should be dealt with alongside the divorce process. It is, therefore, always advisable to obtain legal advice from a specialist family lawyer at the earliest opportunity in order to discuss your options and be furnished with all of the information you need. Anxiety is often born from the fear of the unknown, and a good family lawyer will be able to advise and reassure you throughout the process, and keep you informed at all stages.
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