Digital Divorce Warning

Financial affairs warning ahead of digital divorce plans

Divorcing online could lead to an increase in ex-spouses making financial claims many years later – unless affairs are properly addressed, a  family law expert said today.

Gill Graveson, partner at Birchall Blackburn Law and head of family law for the firm’s seven offices, raised the warning following the news of ministers preparing a pilot project to allow couples to divorce digitally.

The move aims streamline the divorce process, saving time and paperwork and will be tested before being introduced.

Gill explained: “There may be a misapprehension that this will make the whole process easier, but it won’t necessarily. Unless there is a change to a no fault divorce process in real terms it is unlikely to make a significant difference to the number of people filing for a divorce.

“A move towards being able to submit divorce paperwork digitally is definitely a positive move in terms of modernisation, but the biggest risk is that it may encourage people to try to deal with matters themselves without stopping to think about the financial aspects of separation.

“Many will assume that upon Decree Absolute bringing the marriage to an end they’re done and dusted when actually finances still need to be sorted – people may fail to address the financial implications of their separation.

“This could result in claims years down the line, if there’s no proof financial affairs were sorted. Legal advice will still be needed, especially so for complex financial matters.”

Gill added: “In recent years, there have been an increase in cases where couples did not agree financial settlements upon divorce because there were few assets to divide up. However, as one party has become wealthy, the other has made a claim many years later.

“There is currently no time limit to bringing a financial claim in the family courts – so this is something people need to consider.”