The ministry of justice launched an amended copy of the divorce application form earlier this month to much applause.
The form is intended to make it easier for those individuals who wish to get divorced without involving a solicitor and has been hailed as a success by commentators and family law charities alike.
1 in 3 divorces are now issued without involving solicitors.
The amended divorce application form has caused some concern amongst family law professionals for altering the provisions relating to adultery as a reason for the divorce application.
Naming and shaming a third party may feel good when completing the divorce application form but applicants are often unprepared for the consequences of doing so when seeking to complete the divorce application form themselves.
The worry is that many applicants fail to grasp the legal consequences of citing adultery in a divorce application and do not fully understand that in doing so they potentially add a third party to proceedings, which in turn could lead to delays in the divorce process, or worse a defended divorce application.
On a practical note citing adultery and potentially naming the ‘culprit’ can have far reaching personal consequences that the applicant can not envisage at this stage in the proceedings.
And may cause problems for many years after the divorce even after the ink is dry on the Decree Nisi.
As a divorce professional we always advise careful consideration before citing adultery in a divorce application.
The harsh reality is that the court is not interested in the reasons for your separation, only that the marriage/civil partnership has broken down irretrievably.
In short there is very little to be gained by citing adultery and a lot to potentially loose. It can delay proceedings, add additional expenses to your application and potentially involve a third party. Who will naturally want to clear ‘their name’.
The new divorce application form was intended to make things easier for those individuals who do not want to involve a solicitor.
But by altering the section relating to adultery the unintended consequences are that the Divorce Centres may see an increase in applications based on adultery and this may lead to further delays in processing times which the new forms were designed to reduce.
Carmen Hudson (LLB) is a director and head of legal of operations at DivorceBox.com a online legal service provider specialising in online divorce (e-divorce).
After 15 years in dispute resolution she founded DivorceBox to offer a less intimidating alternative to traditional legal services.