In April 2013, individuals that were seeking to divorce their husband or wife were no longer entitled to legal aid (unless they had been the victim of domestic abuse) irrespective of their financial circumstances.
As a result of this, companies offering online divorce have received an ever increasing amount of attention and have also experienced an upturn in business. Why?
To put it simply, an online divorce is significantly cheaper than one performed by a solicitor.
But does this mean that it is the right way for you to proceed?
Firstly, online divorce providers are not solicitors.
This means that they cannot provide legal advice. Yes, we understand the divorce process, know how to prepare the necessary documents and can answer questions of fact, but we cannot negotiate a settlement with your spouse, nor can we advise you on whether or not an agreement that the two of you have reached – in principal – is fair. Oh, and if you don’t both consent to the divorce then, sorry, but an online divorce is definitely not for you – we can only help if you’re both in agreement.
Generally speaking, an online divorce is appropriate when
a) both you and your spouse want the divorce (as discussed above)
b) when there is no dispute over assets (properties, savings, etc.)
c) you are able to agree on whom your children will live with and how often the non-resident parent will be able to see them, whether or not they will stay with them, and so on.
You may hear solicitors say that you should only pursue an online divorce when there are no children involved, no significant assets to divide and when you have only been married for a short period of time, but this is not the case.
The length of the marriage is not relevant at all and an online divorce is not appropriate if you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide your assets or new childcare arrangements only.
That said it is in no way advisable that you and your spouse agree on how to divide your assets without having sought some legal advice.
More important, though, is that you do not to agree to something purely because you’re tired of negotiating or in order to save money. Remember that this settlement may be required to pay the deposit on a new property, survive on a reduced income and much more. If you are in any way displeased with a proposed settlement or are concerned that it will not meet your needs, then it is highly advisable that you instruct a solicitor. The same applies if you are unable to reach agreements with regards to any children that may be involved.
It is, of course, natural to save money whenever possible, but whilst I believe that online divorce providers offer an outstanding product, it is often vital that those going through a divorce seek the advice of a solicitor in order to ensure that they are not left regretting their decision in the long run.
If you and your spouse are in agreement, are amicable and are both happy with your agreements, though, then an online divorce may indeed be an economical and quick way to end your marriage.