Are 'quickie' online divorces all they're cracked up to be?

Member Article

Quickie online divorce 'misleading' says legal expert

The Co-op’s quickie online divorce service is, in reality, unlikely to shorten the length of time it takes to conclude the legal process, a leading Midlands’ divorce lawyer suggested today.

Philip Barnsley, Partner and head of Family at Higgs & Sons, said delays in most cases were down to the courts and not solicitors, and that until the Ministry of Justice introduces a fully online service that is unlikely to change.

“In our experience at Higgs, the most prevalent cause of delays to the overall timeframe of divorce is the backlog experienced at court.

“For example, the West Midlands Regional Divorce Centre is currently operating on the basis of a 19 working day delay simply for applications to be looked at, let alone processed and returned.”

Co-op Legal Services this week unveiled its online divorce service designed to cater ‘around the clock’ for parting couples who want to start proceedings immediately. They claim the new service could potentially cut the time it takes to complete a non-contested divorce by a third, from a potential 6-9 months to as little as four months. Philip Barnsley added: “I would suggest that the Co-op service will not in any way shorten the time it takes to get a divorce.

“At Higgs & Sons, as members of Resolution, we support the calls for the introduction of no fault divorce. In the meantime, when we receive instructions from our clients to issue proceedings for divorce, we are committed to following the Family Law Protocol and as such we correspond with the other party to ensure that those proceedings are issued on the right basis.

“In our opinion this process is absolutely key as it is often the defining moment in how a case will develop and proceed.

“If we get agreement and consensus at the outset, this often leads to less acrimony, speeds up the process for everyone involved, minimises cost and results in better long term relationships for separating families, which is especially important when there are children involved.

“We can then move quickly to draft and issue agreed proceedings and move on to resolve any financial and child related issues that the parties may have in a much better environment.”

In a survey of Higgs & Sons clients, 91 per cent said that they were surprised how much work was involved in the divorce process and more than half said that they underestimated its complexity.

Everyone surveyed said that they would not recommend anyone go through a divorce without an expert family solicitor.

Philip concluded: “In my view, promoting speed over a non-confrontational approach is both misleading and dangerous in terms of the long term consequences that this can have on separating families.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Sam Taylor .

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