Nelsons Solicitors: Digital divorce

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Nelsons' Derby office - Credit: Archant

Layla Babadi from Nelsons Solicitors looks at whether getting divorced online is the way forward

Many areas of life that are usually dealt with in person have been conducted online during the pandemic – and divorce proceedings are no exception.

What are the advantages?

For people handling their own divorce, taking the digital route means they can do it after normal working hours. Of course, their application won’t be processed by the court until the working week begins, but it can be uploaded after hours.

Online divorce proceedings are designed for processing the divorce as opposed to settling the couple’s finances. If it’s a straightforward divorce, it can save parting spouses time and money as they only have the court fee to pay and not the solicitor.

Are there any disadvantages?

Some aspects of the divorce process are definitely not best dealt with online. Couples who try to manage their own divorce proceedings online can find that the process moves more quickly than they anticipate and then find themselves at a disadvantage being divorced without first having sorted out their finances.

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Layla Babadi - Credit: Archant

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A good solicitor will advise their clients that they can use the court’s digital portal to reduce the costs of divorce, but that it would be unwise to consider not seeking the advice of a lawyer on where they stand financially before starting the divorce process online. This is because some rights, for example, spouses' pensions, are lost at the moment the divorce is finalised.

Many people don’t realise that just because they are divorced that in itself doesn’t bring to an end the financial claims of their former spouse. Further steps are needed in order to finalise those claims.

Will digital divorces continue?

With regard to processing divorce documents, the online option will continue. Well before the pandemic, it was always the courts’ intention to go digital wherever possible.

Divorce hearings will continue to be held in court to some extent despite the digital revolution.

Furthermore, financial consent orders work really well digitally. They can be uploaded to the court portal and dealt with rapidly, within a maximum time scale of four weeks. However, it is important to get independent legal advice on finances before considering applying for a consent order so that you are aware of your rights.

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Hopefully, hearings regarding children of divorcing couples will no longer be held remotely – that way people can feel more confident that these important and emotional aspects have been dealt with properly. The courts are already moving towards listing these hearings in a courtroom.

Some hearings are already going back to being held in courtrooms and it is believed that they’ll increase as social distancing regulations ease.

Bearing all of this in mind, ideally, there should be a hybrid approach to divorce proceedings as we emerge from the pandemic.

Layla Babadi is a specialist family law solicitor at Nelsons.

If you need advice on any divorce-related matter or have any other family law-related queries, please contact Layla on 01332 372372 or by email Layla.babadi@nelsonslaw.co.uk.

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