The family court’s rejection of more than two dozen ‘copy and paste’ divorce petitions has proved the importance of seeking expert legal advice, according to Thursfields Solicitors.
The leading Midlands law firm was commenting after Mr Justice Moor rejected a total of 28 petitions from the same online divorce company because they cited “absolutely identical” particulars of behaviour against the respondent.
Philip Rea, a director of the Family Law team at Thursfields, told how the judge had concluded the petitions were “improper” as it was “quite impossible” for each of the respondents to have behaved in exactly the same way.
Philip said: “For many divorcing couples, the cost of divorcing weighs heavily in their decision on whether or not to instruct a solicitor.
“Judgements like that of Mr Justice Moor provide a stark and important reminder that when embarking on divorce you should ensure expert legal advice is obtained so the whole process and all procedures are followed properly by a qualified solicitor.
“While Mr Justice Moor did not refer those responsible to the Director of Public Prosecutions, he warned that he would have ‘no hesitation’ in doing so if there was any repeat.
“He also insisted that his judgment be placed on the free BAILII legal website to help ensure that nobody else acts like this in the future.”
Philip explained that many online divorce companies charged extremely low prices for divorces because they were unregulated businesses and do not use qualified solicitors.
And while many people find the advertised cost savings attractive, circumstances like the dismissal of petitions can cause huge problems and delay.
He said: “It is vital that people obtain professional advice from a qualified solicitor in what is a very important and often stressful situation.
“It is also crucial that divorcing couples who own property and assets obtain expert legal advice to assist them with the division of those assets.
“The financial aspects of divorce should always be concluded by way of a court order, whether that be with the consent of both parties or with the assistance of solicitors or the court.
“For divorcing couples who do not own property or have any assets, it is also extremely important that a financial order, known as a ‘clean break’, is obtained.
“This will ensure that the financial claims, which each spouse has against the other by virtue of their marriage, are dismissed to avoid any possible future financial claims if one or both parties’ financial positions change in later years.”
Philip added: “These financial aspects of a divorce are not always considered or dealt with properly when people engage the services of an online company.”
Anyone needing expert legal advice on divorce can contact the Family Law Team at Thursfields Solicitors on 0345 20 73 72 8 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.