Applying for divorce online, do you still need a lawyer?

11th January 2023


On 5th September 2022, HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) released a fact sheet detailing the position since the changes in divorce law came into effect on 6th April 2022.

The statistics published are as follows:

In its first month, the online divorce service received 13,000 applications from couples who applied to end their marriage. 2,771 were joint applications for divorce and 10,207 were sole applications.

The change to the law provides an opportunity for separating couples to be able to issue their application jointly and most importantly, to give them the tools they need to separate in an amicable and non-confrontational way.

Between 6th April and June 2022, figures show that 33,234 divorces were made of which 78% were sole applications and 22% were joint applications. This is a clear indication that not apportioning blame is making the process more streamlined for all involved and brings our laws in line with other jurisdictions.

The online portal is user friendly and makes it easier for separating couples to deal with the applications themselves should they wish to do so. At each stage, an email is received from the Court to confirm the next steps and to provide key dates. It uses plain and simple English, making the process far less complicated. One must however be aware of the following:


  1. Dealing with a divorce yourself does not make it quicker. I have read a few articles in national newspapers in which this has been purported. The process/procedure is the same in terms of timescales whether you are acting in person or instructing a lawyer to support you.
  2. Obtaining your final order of divorce does not mean that financial matters have been resolved. You will need a separate order confirming what has been agreed between you and your spouse. This ensures that you have that finality/clean break in respect of your finances, meaning you can avoid any potential difficulties in the future. Whether you have major assets or minimal assets, do not ignore this step.
  3. Take legal advice. It is important that you seek guidance on proposals for settlement or any agreement reached with your spouse. Whilst you may have agreed to offset one asset against another, this may not be the fair way to resolve matters or indeed be to your advantage. Even if you still wish to proceed with any agreement reached, still seek guidance so that you can make informed decisions.

Divorces are anticipated to surge further this year with a lot of predictions around what has popularly been called by the press as “Divorce Day” which was the first working day of January (9th January 2023). The myth of Divorce Day has been around for some time now. Whilst it is fair to say that we have received several enquiries and appointments being arranged on my return to the office on 3rd January, this does not technically mean that everyone is queuing up to seek a divorce.

Generally, throughout the year, clients will want to know their position and options to be able to make decisions regarding their lives. Often this has been considered over a long period of time as separating from your spouse is a difficult decision to make. January may be the time where information gathering takes place before a decision is made but certainly not a month when everyone is rushing to get divorced.

Although these changes in the law have great benefits for clients, it is still imperative that legal advice is sought regarding financial matters to avoid leaving yourself vulnerable to future financial claims. You may also be relinquishing an asset without knowing the full impact now or the value to you in real terms.

I am happy to provide initial advice to support and guide you in respect of financial matters and my team and I offer free 30-minute initial consultations for this purpose.

Please do get in touch by email or by phone if you require my assistance.

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