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Online Divorce system commenced in England & Wales

Divorce | Private Client

Further to our article written in April 2018 in respect of online divorce in England & Wales, news emerged over the bank holiday weekend that a new online divorce system has commenced and is now available to the public.

The pilot scheme for the new system saw 1,000 petitions lodged, from which 91% of users reported that they were satisfied with the service. The new online divorce system, has been what Sir Munby James called a “triumphant success”.

The new online divorce system allows members of the public to complete the whole process via this forum, without the need of legal representatives. Whilst the online divorce system is meant to reduce the stress and costs for parties to a divorce, critics have been quick to comment, since the Ministry of Justice’s press release, on the potential risks and consequences with the online system.

Law firms in England & Wales have stressed the importance that, whilst the online divorce system may seem attractive, there is still a need to take proper legal advice. As no marital breakdown is the same, and each matter is largely a case by case basis, the online divorce system may be too generalised, particularly for those couples who may have complex issues in terms of their finances and/or child arrangements.

In that respect, the online divorce system appears to be more suitable for those who have little or no finances between them, and/or no children or  have previously agreed arrangements.

Where matters are complex, and parties seek to use the online divorce system, the following risks may occur, where no proper legal advice is sought:

  • An increase of issues concerning the ‘blame game’; for example where a petitioner alleges adultery or unreasonable behaviour of the respondent, this could lead to a worsening of the animosity between the parties where no legal advice is given. Where, in practice, most legal representatives would advise not to defend a petition alleging one of these grounds, due to costs and delay, it could amount to respondents who are not privy to such advice defending those types of petitions.
  • If a petitioner states that the respondent should bear the costs of their proceedings, and this is disputed, it could amount to a delay in the matter, which contradicts the speediness envisaged for the process.
  • A petitioner may file for decree absolute once the decree nisi stage has elapsed (six weeks and one day), without settling any outstanding issues concerning the finances and/or child arrangements. In practice, legal representatives usually advise the petitioner not to apply for decree absolute until such matters are settled between the parties.

The system in Jersey

At present, there appear to be no published plans to implement an online divorce system in Jersey. The current system in place for those parties who wish to represent themselves (litigant in persons), is still paper based; however, the relevant forms can be found online. The States of Jersey website provides for comprehensive procedural advice for divorce proceedings, should someone wish to represent themselves.

The implementation of an online divorce system may be a bridge too far, in terms of generalising what can be a complex process (depending on the circumstances), into a digitalised forum.

Author:  Stephanie Devine


Parslows Jersey can help

The breakdown of human relationships can cause great stress, anxiety and problems. The process of separation and divorce is rarely easy.

Our aim is always to attempt to deal with divorce as painlessly as we can. While this cannot always be achieved – much depends on an individual client’s own requirements and the way in which the other party to the case proceeds – we will always attempt to seek such a course for you.  We will look to solutions to solve any problems between the parties and not to add to the antagonism.

Our divorce lawyers are focused on providing you with expert advice with a truly personal service.

We advise on all aspects of family law: whether it be advice on divorce, dissolution of a partnership or financial settlements we can assist.

Our clients are pleased with our service and fees, we are confident you will be too.

For further information please do not hesitate to call 630530 or email us on  familylaw@parslowsjersey.com

We offer fixed fee divorce petitioner and fixed fee divorce respondent packages together with a regular Jersey Free Divorce Clinic – Peace of mind right from the start.

Please note that the information provided on this website is for general information purposes only and is designed to provide you with an outline of the legal services we offer.  Whilst we endeavour to ensure our information is correct and useful, we make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information offered.  Information on our website does not constitute legal advice and Parslows Jersey accepts no liability for any loss or damage arising out of, or in connection with, the information found in this website.  Please consult a lawyer at Parslows Jersey in the event that you require professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of the same, is correct.

Parslows Jersey are here to help with all your legal queries call us today on +44 (0) 1534 630530

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