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Do I still need to see a solicitor to get divorced?

You may have seen in the news that the process of getting divorced is being modernised enabling couples to make applications for divorce online rather than having to go to court.

Making applications for divorce easier and accessible to everyone is a good thing. However I would still advise a trip to the solicitor’s office for legal advice on your options before embarking on a do-it-yourself application.

The reason for this is that many clients assume they fulfil one of the categories for divorce when actually they don’t. An example is the requirement to be separated for 2 years or more and have the consent of the other party, known as the respondent spouse. They may well have been separated for 2 years but often they are unsure if their estranged spouse will agree to complete the acknowledgment form. They start the divorce and pay the hefty court fee of £550  only to discover along the line that spouse will not sign or acknowledge the papers. More often than not this leads to a dismissal of the original application (incurring a court fee) and a re-issue of another divorce application and a further court fee of £550 for another category such as unreasonable behaviour. Another misconception is 5 years separation. I often hear from clients the assumption that if they have remained separated for over 5 years the divorce is ‘automatic’ and does not require an application as such. Clearly this is wrong.

For this reason I hope the on line scheme will advise all applicants to seek legal advice first before making their divorce application. Such advice does not have to cost the client anything. Free advice clinics and free first appointments are crucial in such cases. There is no obligation to instruct, you see a qualified and experienced solicitor, the advice you receive is free and most important of all it could stop you making mistakes that can cost you a lot of money later on.

For advice and information or to book your free first appointment please contact our Head of Family Law Jenny Sharma. 

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