When a marriage breaks down it can be incredibly stressful and emotions can run high. Often the parties will want to finalise the divorce as quickly as possible and in recent years the number of unregulated online companies offering quick and simple divorces has risen hugely to tap into this demand for an easy resolution. This article highlights the importance of obtaining legal advice at an early stage.
It is possible to apply for a divorce yourself as the relevant forms are accessible online via the Government website. However, if you are considering starting divorce proceedings, it is always advisable to seek legal advice as an initial step. A solicitor can guide you through the divorce process and help you to think about connected matters such as how the finances will be dealt with. Seeking legal advice should not be considered a confrontational move, instead it will enable both you and your spouse to make informed decisions going forward.
When can you apply for divorce?
You must have been married for at least one year. A common misconception that results in divorce petitions being dismissed is the belief that you can petition for divorce when you have been married for less than one year. While it is possible to prepare the documents in advance, it is important that no steps are taken to issue proceedings to ensure the law is fully complied with and the divorce is valid.
What are grounds for divorce?
The law currently requires the spouse wishing to instigate divorce proceedings (known as the petitioner) to prove the sole ground for divorce that their marriage has irretrievably broken down, and establish one of five facts. These include unreasonable behaviour, adultery, desertion and two years separation with consent. Alternatively, if you have been separated for five years you may start proceedings without the other spouse’s consent.
From 6th April 2022 new ‘No Fault’ legislation will come into effect and either spouse will be able to apply for a divorce on the sole ground that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. It will also be possible to make a joint application.
What can you learn from other divorce cases?
It is apparent that many divorce petitions are being prepared through unregulated online providers often offering quick resolutions. A total of 28 divorce petitions prepared and filed with the Court by the same company, iDivorces Ltd, have recently been dismissed after a judge found the particulars of behaviour were ‘absolutely identical’. The company had used standard wording detailing the particulars of behaviour within 145 words. The director accepted that the company approached preparing divorce petitions in an identical way, simply sending its standard behaviour wording to its clients and asking if they would like any changes to be made. The director has since apologised to the Court, confirmed there had been a misunderstanding and said the issue will not happen in the future.
Why you should always seek expert advice
The rise in these illegitimate companies has resulted in wasted Court time and the threat of legal action for perverting the course of justice. While it may be tempting to opt for what appears to be the quick and easy option online, it is vitally important that individuals thinking about starting divorce proceedings seek expert legal advice from regulated providers who can help you make the process as smooth as possible for your family. Be wary of template divorce petitions, as each and every petition is unique to the specific set of circumstances which had led to the partis’ separation and must be carefully prepared.
How can Tozers help?