The 'digital' divorce - Is it leading to the end of more marriages?

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Family/Divorce Article

04 October, 2019

Since April 2018, spouses have been able to complete the divorce application process online. This means that instead of posting paperwork, those wanting to file for divorce can complete applications, upload the documents needed and pay fees online. The cost of the fee to file for divorce is £550 which is the same for a paper or a digital application.

The Government introduced 'digital' divorces as part of a £1billion plan to modernise the justice system. The Ministry of Justice have stated that online services do not replace existing paper-based applications, but provide what was introduced as an option for people who may find the digital option to be a quicker and easier service.

According to recent Ministry of Justice figures, 40 per cent of divorce petitions are now made digitally since the online divorce petition was introduced. However, in response to a Freedom of Information request, the Ministry of Justice published figures which record that only a smaller number of online divorces have proceeded to a final divorce decree absolute than those which started as traditional paper applications.

In terms of the time taken to reach the decree absolute stage, the Ministry of Justice have recorded that 30 per cent of paper divorces issued in the three months to December 2018, were finalised, compared with just 12 per cent of online divorces in the same period.

Lodging a divorce petition online has become easier for some applicants. However, a longer-term analysis of the trends in divorce patterns will be required to determine whether more marriages have broken down irretrievably or whether digital divorces results in more people filing for divorce. It seems too early to conclude that those filing for divorce are reflecting less on their divorce petitions than people who apply following a traditional paper route.

It will be interesting to review the divorce statistics in January 2020 and the trends in digital divorce. Last year - the first year of the digital divorce at Christmas - thirteen people filed for divorce on Christmas day in England and Wales according to official figures. They were among 455 online divorce applications submitted to HM Courts & Tribunals Service between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day in 2018-2019. Twenty-six people submitted applications on Christmas Eve, 23 on Boxing Day and 77 on New Year's Day.

At Forbes our specialist divorce law solicitors are here to help clients through all the legal issues in a sympathetic and caring manner. Whilst the online divorce process can help some people whose marriage has broken down irretrievably, there are also other issues for those considering the end of their marriage, including financial separation and arrangements for children. Forbes family lawyers have the expertise and legal knowledge to assist our clients at a difficult time of their lives.

For more information contact Rubina Vohra in our Family/Divorce department via email or phone on 01254 580000. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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