New form for divorce applications
The Ministry of Justice has changed the form used for applying for divorce to make it easier to complete. One in three divorce applications are now made without involving a solicitor, and the new form is intended to make the process more user-friendly for non-lawyers.
The form has extensive notes alongside the sections that need to be filled in, and is generally considered an improvement on the previous version. However, there are concerns about a section of the form that asks the petitioner to fill in the details of “the person your partner committed adultery with”.
This dedicated section suggests that petitioners should fill this in when in fact the court’s general approach is to discourage naming that person. It is not necessary in law if the divorce is not defended, and it potentially adds to the cost and complication because that third party must then be sent a copy of the divorce application, and given a chance to respond.
The notes in the margin do say “it is not normally necessary to name the person your spouse committed adultery with” – but the inclusion of a section specifically for a name and address may make some people think it is necessary rather than optional, or encourage them to think it is the preferred option.
The change in the form is another step towards the court’s apparent longer term ambition to largely remove the court from the process, providing for an online “digital divorce”.
Financial and children matters are unaffected by these changes as these matters are often complex and a legal professional required.