Whilst issuing divorce proceedings online may appear to be considered a cheaper option, by not seeking advice from a solicitor you may unknowingly be putting your long term financial position at risk.
Many people do not appreciate that whilst the online process legally ends a marriage it does not address or sever the financial ties between divorcing couples. This means that, for example, if one party inherited large sums of money or won the lottery following a divorce, the other party could still make a financial claim.
Even if there are no dependent children or there are no significant financial matters to resolve, in order to protect future income and capital, a Financial Order (Clean Break) should be obtained from the Court recording the terms of any agreement and preventing any future financial claims. It also means that any financial agreements made between parties are not legally binding which can often result in a party coming for ‘a second bite of the cherry’.
I have seen cases where parties believed that financial matters were resolved as an agreement was reached between them at the time of separation but many years later, this was not the case as the ex-partner has either denied that an agreement was reached or argued that it was unfair and they wanted more.
This can of course be financially devastating, not only if you then have to give away more of your assets or pension but also in terms of legal costs due to the added complications of delay. What many people do not appreciate is that a relatively small saving in costs now could in fact end up costing them significantly more in the long run.
The financial arrangements of divorcing couples can often be complex and are unique to each couples’ situation. It is extremely important that legal advice is obtained in respect of how financial matters should be dealt with following a divorce in order to ensure that a fair agreement is reached and the needs of you and any children are met.
Obtaining legal advice from a Family Solicitor prior to or during the divorce process will ensure that financial claims are dealt with properly and to prevent any future claims being made. In some circumstances, particularly where pensions are involved, it can be advisable to delay obtaining the Decree Absolute, until the Order setting out any agreement is approved by the court.
Sadly, many people using the online process will apply for Decree Absolute without having received legal advice, leaving them in an extremely vulnerable position.