I am an online shopping junkie. Books, clothes, food or music – Most of my shopping is now done in the wee hours, by the light of my phone or laptop and… I love it.
No fighting for car parking spaces or dealing with rude shop assistants; It’s just me, a cup of tea and endless hours to browse in peace. The Digital Revolution continues to change the world and offer us quicker, faster and cheaper ways to do pretty much anything and everything.
So why not extend this principle to life’s more serious affairs; for example – getting divorced?
Googling a Quick Divorce
If you run a search for ‘online divorce’ through Google, it will reveal a plethora of results, hard sell websites bombarding you with statements such as, “quick online divorce £37-no Courts, no Solicitors fees” and “divorce in weeks from £59”.
As the old saying goes; ‘if it seems too good to be true… it probably is’. When it comes to divorcing for a mere £37, no truer words were spoken.
The Real Cost of a Divorce
How is that you can get a ‘quick divorce for £37’ if the Court fee alone for filing divorce papers are £550 and that includes the ‘decree absolute’? These fees are non-negotiable.
Another thing to look out for is those online divorce websites that charge £37 simply for downloading the forms required for a divorce and some basic guidance on filling them in. These forms are available to download for free from your local Court. You can obtain some basic information on filling in the forms from Citizen’s Advice or a community law centre. Again, you can obtain this advice free of charge.
You must also bear in mind that regardless of what online divorce companies’ promise, an uncontested divorce, even with no arguments about property and/or the children can still take up to four months to work through the Court system.
However, these issues are minor compared with what could happen if couples fail to invest in getting proper legal advice. The desire for a quick fix solution that I am talking about may not only affect you, but your children as well.
Childcare arrangements – no quick fixes
Before the Court will grant any divorce, arrangements concerning the children must be made. These arrangements will include:
- Where and with whom the children will live; and
- when and where the non-custodial parent will see them
These arrangements work best when negotiated between the parents themselves; however, to avoid conflict occurring in the future, make sure you formalise the decisions you have made in a Childcare Arrangement Order, signed by a Judge.
You both may feel happy about the divorce and the arrangements you have put in place for your children now but what happens if something changes; for example, if one of you starts a new relationship in the future? These kinds of changes can cause emotions to spiral out of control and lead to disagreements about the childcare arrangements which were not an issue when you were both separated but still single.
If you have a formal Child Arrangement Order in place, then your children’s’ lives will remain stable and neither you nor your ex can use custody and access arrangements as a weapon against each other, which sadly happens all too often in these situations.
Money Money Money… £$€
If you don’t get a Financial Order approved and sealed by a Judge setting out how property and assets from your marriage will be divided between you and your spouse, then you leave yourself wide open to not only selling yourself short economically, but you effectively give your ex an invitation to come back at any point in the future and make a claim on your finances!
Sorry to be blunt but that is the harsh reality.
In most marriages, one party (usually the wife but not always) is more financially vulnerable than the other. Therefore, it is imperative that you use an expert family solicitor to work out what you are entitled to in the financial settlement, especially if there are children involved.
When it comes to money and divorce, failing to protect yourself and your children because you have a fear of ‘rocking the boat’ could affect your financial future for many years to come.
By engaging a solicitor to help you divide your assets and sort out child and/or spousal maintenance payments, it doesn’t mean that you’ve declared war on your ex. A sensible lawyer will listen to your desire to work things in a peaceful manner.
My firm, Saracens Solicitors belongs to Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers who are committed to settling divorce issues in a non-confrontational manner. We can use alternative methods such as mediation and arbitration to resolve disputes and both are far more cost-effective than full-blown litigation.
Please be aware that legal costs only spiral out of control in a divorce where couples are at loggerheads over settling issues regarding finances and/or children. A good Solicitor will work hard for you to avoid this happening whilst ensuring both parties and most importantly, the children get a fair deal.
This is not something most cheap, online divorce providers can or will provide.
Is an Online Divorce Ever a Good Idea?
Many people who have divorced using an online service have been completely satisfied with the process and this is evidenced by the number of positive reviews left on many online divorce websites. For those who are parting ways as friends, have very little in the way of assets, and do not have any children, an online divorce can be a cost-effective, stress-free way of severing the marriage.
However, for a marriage that involves property, children, assets or if you find yourself disagreeing on how to stack the dishwasher let alone how your pension will be divided, then you need to invest in professional legal advice.
Working with an experienced family solicitor is likely to be more cost effective in the long-term, as both you and your spouse will end up with a fair financial settlement. When a marriage breaks up, there is more at stake than just money but by investing a little more in obtaining professional guidance and knowledge, you can be confident that you can put the past behind you and look forward to the future, without worrying that your quick, cheap online divorce will come back to haunt you.
Saracens Solicitors is a London based law firm with an experienced family law department. If you wish to talk further about any of the issues raised in this article, please feel free to call me on 020 3588 3500.
If you have any comments to make, please add them in the comments section below.