Online divorce company iDivorces was found to have submitted 28 divorce petitions with the exact same wording used for the reason for the divorce, leaving the court they were submitted to no choice but to reject the petitions.
Each petition set out a description of the behaviours the responding spouse was alleged to have committed in 145 words. Family court judge, Mr Justice Moor stated that for 28 respondents to have behaved exactly identically is “quite impossible” and decided that the petitions were “improper”, leaving him no choice but to dismiss them. All 28 petitioners will now have to submit new applications.
The company iDivorces is an unregulated divorce provider. The previous director Mr Eastham admitted that for those particular petitions standard wording was used, but he said their clients had been asked if anything needed changing before the petitions were submitted.
Eastham apologised for the misunderstanding in court and confirmed that the same incident would never happen again. The judgement is now placed on the BAILII website to make sure it does not occur a second time, as reported by The Law Society Gazette.
When divorcing, it is crucial to get a reputable divorce solicitor to assist with filling out your divorce petition. They will ensure that it properly reflects your personal circumstances regarding why you are applying for divorce and will reduce the risk of the court rejecting it and help to prevent any other issues that could potentially delay your divorce.
Does it matter what you write on your divorce petition?
What is written on your divorce petition will decide whether your petition is accepted or rejected. Therefore, it is vital that it is properly filled out. If there are mistakes or you have applied under a reason which you are not eligible for, there is the chance that it could be delayed or rejected completely, meaning you will have lost money and time.
What are the current reasons for divorce?
There is one ground for divorce and dissolution, which is that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down. However, this must be proved by one of five facts, these are:
- Adultery (does not apply to civil partnership dissolutions)
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Separation for two years (both spouses/civil partners must consent to the divorce or dissolution)
- Separation for five years (consent only needed from one spouse/civil partner)
- Desertion for two years out of the last two and half years
What counts as unreasonable behaviour?
Unreasonable behaviour is the term that is most often used in divorce proceedings because it is the easiest to prove and is usually the quickest way to obtain divorce.
For someone’s behaviour to be classed as unreasonable in divorce, it must mean that an individual spouse/civil partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot be reasonably expected to continue living with them.
There is no specified list that determines what these behaviours are, but in most instances, the unreasonable behaviour can be anything from small to severe. For example, petty arguments, domestic abuse, financial recklessness, verbal abuse, etc. would be classed as unreasonable behaviour
If you are uncertain whether your spouse/civil partner’s behaviour is unreasonable, a divorce solicitor will be able to provide you with advice on the likeliness of your divorce petition being accepted or rejected.
What is no fault divorce?
The current divorce law often doesn’t reflect the true feelings of those looking to divorce, as it must place blame on one of the parties, meaning that the law sometimes can prevent individuals from getting a divorce.
However, in April 2022, this is set to change when the Divorce, Separation and Dissolution Act 2020 comes into force. People wishing to divorce will no longer need to put the blame on one party, giving the option for a ‘no fault’ divorce.
Under the new rules, the current five reasons you need to cite for a divorce will cease to exist, with only a statement explaining that the marriage has irretrievably broken down being required.
The new no fault divorce law also allows for joint applications, which shows that the decision is mutual, whereas the current law only allows one party to submit a divorce petition.
Why is it important to have a good solicitor?
Having a good solicitor to assist with your divorce petition will reduce the risk of delays or rejection as they will be able to thoroughly check the petition to ensure that there are no mistakes and that it is worded in a way that means a court is unlikely to reject the divorce petition.
To ensure that there are no delays with your divorce, it is recommended to have a divorce solicitor assist with the drafting and submission of your petition, as well as to help with any financial or child arrangements.
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