You may have heard in the news that there were 13 divorce petitions issued via the HM Courts & Tribunal Services’ online system on Christmas Day. In the grand scheme of things, this might not seem like a huge number (given that there have been some 23,000 petitions issued online since April 2018), but to a compassionate legal professional it is a staggering figure – and one which highlights the potential perils of using impersonal, online services to commence a very emotive process.
At Emmersons Solicitors, we were instructed by a spouse who had received a divorce petition in the period between Christmas and New Year. To them, nothing could have been more devastating; the decision to issue proceedings at such a time that the petition would be served over the festive period. This is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year – evinced a disregard for their feelings and will no doubt colour their perception of their spouse throughout the remainder of the legal proceedings.
Examples such as this highlight to us the fact that, without a face-to-face meeting with an experienced, compassionate professional, key strategic decisions will be – and indeed are being – overlooked when issuing and progressing divorce proceedings. Our team of Family Law and Divorce specialists is alive to the fact that the better course of action is to show some empathy in respect of the timing of issuing a petition. In part, this is because experience shows us that reducing animosity, so far as is possible, makes it far more likely that the parties will be amenable to reasonable discussions on the issues.
On the subject of timing, other strategic decisions that might have a significant impact – and which we would begin to consider from the initial appointment – include:
– The timing of the application for ‘Decree Absolute’ (the final order which will bring the marriage to an end), which is clearly significant from an emotional point of view, but also because – for example – spouses might have certain entitlements in respect of their wife, husband or civil partner’s pension, which would be brought to an end once the Decree Absolute is pronounced; and
– The timing of the application for ‘Decree Nisi’ (the conditional order of divorce). This is because, up until this stage in proceedings, the timeline is very much in the hands of the spouse that issued the proceedings; whereas, once Decree Nisi is obtained, the Respondent in the divorce is ultimately able to apply for Decree Absolute, and thus bring matters to a conclusion (albeit not as soon as the Petitioner would have been able to).
If you were to rely on an automated system to progress your divorce, points such as these would be very easy to overlook and might be highly significant depending on your individual circumstances. What appeared at first to be a convenient and relatively inexpensive alternative to engaging a solicitor could prove very costly in the long run, and you should strongly consider taking – at the very least – initial advice from a Specialist Divorce Lawyer before clicking submit.
If you need help with your divorce or separation, then why not contact us for a Next Steps Divorce Advice Session and to see how we can help you. We can be contacted on:
Family Law Specialists Solicitors Newcastle: 0191 284 6989
Family Law Specialists Solicitors Sunderland: 0191 567 6667
or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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We are frequently asked about the value of instructing an expert solicitor to handle a divorce. We have put together this useful guide which will answer many of your questions. If you are contemplating a divorce or separation, and wondering whether you need a solicitor to assist you, then our guide will help you to decide.