Can I Get Divorced in Self-Isolation?
In these uncertain times, many people are exploring a new world of home working, virtual meetings, and chatting with friends on a screen instead of in the local coffee shop.
Alongside this new isolated lifestyle is the reality that life does go on. If you are thinking about getting divorced, or you are in the midst of divorce proceedings, things do not have to be paused indefinitely.
At Watson Thomas we pride ourselves on being a paperless office. This means that our office environment is clear and tidy for maximum efficiency, but also that we can easily work from home when it is necessary. We are therefore able to remain as a fully functioning firm and we are continuing to support our existing clients and helping any new ones. You can reach out to us for initial advice and we can accommodate this through telephone calls or video conferencing.
Fortunately, the Court system is also already ahead, with the online divorce portal having been live for over a year now. This allows you to file a divorce petition online, and your spouse is served with it by email. The portal is very helpful in explaining what you need to do next, and what forms you need to complete. If you need help with these forms, all solicitors are also able to use the divorce portal on behalf of their clients and this can all be done by email.
When you are going through a divorce, it is also important to ensure that your finances are split accurately. We always advise our clients to obtain a financial settlement as a Court Order so that it is a binding agreement and it ensures you don’t get any nasty surprises from a claim in 10 years’ time by your ex-spouse against your finances. It is also important to wait to apply for your Decree Absolute until after you have reached a financial settlement as it prevents you from losing out on rights as a surviving spouse if your ex passes away unexpectedly during proceedings.
Financial agreements can be reached either by consent or through the court system. If you are able to negotiate an agreement together, we always encourage you to exchange financial information beforehand. This can be done online using your bank account logins and many other companies are receptive to receiving requests via phone or email.
If you are able to reach an agreement by consent, then you can file a Consent Order on the online financial remedy portal. This enables you to upload the agreed order, and a Judge can review the order online. Once they are happy with the agreement you have reached, you will be told by email that your Order has been approved and you can then apply for your Decree Absolute through the divorce portal.
If you cannot reach an agreement, then you have to go to Court. In normal circumstances this would mean turning up at the Court building for a hearing. With the current social climate, this has temporarily stopped. Courts are now arranging telephone hearings, and Skype hearings, so that people can attend without exposing themselves to any risk. Many courts are also asking for paperwork to be emailed instead of posted now, and so they can easily circulate the necessary paperwork for your case. There is therefore no reason why your case could not go ahead just because you are in self-isolation.
There is therefore no reason why things cannot continue to move forward in the current climate, and we at Watson Thomas are here to support you in these everchanging times.
At Watson Thomas our staff can work from home and access all systems so even if all are required to self-isolate this will not affect the day-to-day running of your case. We can also hold appointments via telephone and video link as needs be to ensure that your service is not interrupted.