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Christmas: a time for reconciliation or divorce?

View profile for Steven Payne
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Whilst divorce is perhaps antithetic to the values of Christmas, festive cheer is not always enough to save relationships in conflict. Following the initiative to modernise divorce, the introduction of online petitions has allowed 13 couples in England and Wales to begin their divorce proceedings on Christmas Day.

A correlation can also be made between New Year's resolution and divorce, with 77 applicants striving for a fresh start on New Year's Day this year. This equated to 455 online divorce applications filed to the HM Courts and Tribunal in the periods between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day. The modernisation of the process has helped to make divorce more accessible. The popularity of the digital option is reflected in the Ministry of Justice figures. The figures show that 23,000 online applications for divorce have been made since the introduction of the regime.

Justice Minister, Lucy Frazer has said that "the option of moving from paper-based processes to online systems which will cut waste, speed up services which can be safely expedited, and to otherwise better fit with modern life."

Currently, divorce can only be obtained if it can be proved that the relationship has broken down irretrievably. This must be decided with reference to one of the five facts: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, a two year separation period with consent or five years separation without consent, to show irretrievable breakdown. Despite divorce being more accessible, the Office for National Statistics has shown a decrease of 5% in opposite-sex divorces in 2017. Whilst the online petition makes the process easier, the requirement for the couples to engage with mediation ensures that divorce is only undergone as a last resort.

By digitally modernising divorce law, it is clear that there is Governmental motivation to make the process of divorce easier and quicker for couples. It is anticipated that this incentive will be engrained in the 2019 divorce law reforms, to potentially enable divorce to be found without the need of any reference to fault.

There are often complex ancillary considerations in divorce cases rather than simply ending the status of being married.  It frequently involves disputes regarding financial arrangements and issues determining the welfare of children of the marriage.

Gepp Solicitors have a wealth of experience in family law, having just celebrated their 250th year in business. Email family@gepp.co.uk or call 01245 228106 today to speak to one of our experts.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interests about current legal issues.