New Forest family breakdown? DIY Divorce
Life Matters for Lymington from Lester Aldridge: Do-it-yourself Divorce
Continuing on the theme of family breakdown this month's Life Matters for Lymington from Lester Aldridge introduces "DIY Divorce" with an article by Rosemary Sharp in the Family Law Team.
As always, please share this article with anyone you know who might find it useful.
Online divorce service
The Ministry of Justice launched its online divorce service nationwide 18 months ago. The portal, which can be found on the gov.uk website, enables couples to apply for divorce digitally without the need to complete and post paper forms to the court. At the moment, only individuals can use this service, not solicitors.
The aim is to simplify the divorce process for couples and make it easier for litigants, in person, to complete the process with little or no legal advice. Using the government portal can be an appealing option for many couples, particularly if they are amicable and/or in agreement about proceeding with a divorce.
This is a big step forward in terms of progress for family law in an increasingly digital world. It should make divorce cheaper, quicker and easier for people.
Beware of the pitfalls though
Couples do, however, need to be aware of the pitfalls when using this service and remember that family law can be complex. It is essential that they fully understand the legal implications of seeking a divorce and completing the online forms to avoid being severely disadvantaged further down the line.
It is important to preserve your financial claims when completing the online divorce forms, in case it isn’t possible to reach a financial agreement with your spouse or problems arise when you try to formally document the financial agreement you and your spouse have reached. In order to do this, you need to ensure the correct boxes are ticked on the form. This is particularly important if you want to remarry before sorting out your financial claims with your spouse.
When couples get married or enter into a civil partnership they acquire financial rights and responsibilities towards each other. On a divorce, spouses have claims against the other’s capital, pensions and income. Many people believe that when a decree absolute is made in a divorce, as well as being legally divorced, it means that each party’s financial claims are dismissed and no claims can be made in the future. This is not the case.
Many people are getting divorced and do not realise their financial claims against one another are still ‘live’. This can cause endless problems in the future as ex-spouses come out of the woodwork and pursue their financial claims when the ex-spouse have remarried or their financial circumstances have significantly changed i.e. through inheritance, savings or even a lottery win!
Separate application for resolution of financial claims
The online divorce portal does not enable you to ask the family court to dismiss or adjudicate your respective financial claims when you divorce. This involves a separate application to the family court. If you and your spouse have reached an agreement about finances, even if that agreement is that neither of you will make any claims against the other’s assets and income, the agreement must be properly drafted and approved by the family court; so it is binding and enforceable. It is this document, known as a financial consent order, which will protect you against financial claims from your ex-spouse in the future.
This is where Lester Aldridge can help!
If you have started or completed a divorce using the online portal, but are unsure how to resolve your financial claims or document your financial agreement, Lester Aldridge can help.
Lester Aldridge Solicitors offer a free 30 minute consultation; by clicking this link to the Lester Aldridge Family Law team you can contact them and also can view details of all the Lester Aldridge Partners in the Family Law team.)
Or simply call 01202 786161 and ask for a member of the Family Law team.
Life Matters for Lymington and the New Forest
For a full list of all the Life Matters articles by Lester Aldrige Solicitors published on Lymington.com so that you can read the ones which interest you, please click this link
About Lester Aldridge
Lester Aldridge Solicitors are based in London and Bournemouth where the office covering the New Forest is situated conveniently close to the main Bournemouth train station. Their specialist teams in the various fields of law will be happy to advise and assist you, starting with a completely free initial consultation during which you can decide whether you feel able to trust them with your confidential information. For more information please click here.