Potential dangers of using a cheap online divorce provider
14 October 2021
The Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only ground that you are able to use to divorce in England and Wales at this time. It needs to be proved by establishing one of five facts, two of which are fault-based and involve specifically blaming the other spouse.
One of the most commonly used fault based facts is the unreasonable behaviour of the respondent spouse. In almost every marriage (even the happy ones) you could find reasons which could form the basis of an unreasonable behaviour divorce petition. But these reasons would likely differ. Every marriage is different. Every divorce is different. However, in the legal case of Yorston and Others v iDivorces, Mr Justice Moore heard a case where 28 divorce petitions contained exactly the same reasons as follows:
“For about a year prior to the separation the respondent would become moody without justification and argumentative towards the petitioner. He/she would behave in this way on at least a couple of days every week, which would cause a lot of tension within the home thereby making the petitioner’s life very uncomfortable. During the same period the respondent would also often ignore the petitioner and decline to communicate with him. He/she would also behave in this way on about two days every week, which would also cause a lot of tension within the home and make the petitioner’s life very difficult. The respondent showed no interest in leading the life of a married woman/man for about a year before the separation. For example, he/she would go out socially on his/her own and basically exclude the petitioner from his/her life thereby making him/her feel very dejected.”
The judge held the view that while the reasons above, were exactly the sort of particulars that they would expect to find in a divorce petition, it would be impossible for all 28 respondents to have behaved in exactly the same way. The judge therefore dismissed the divorce petitions as improper, which meant that all 28 spouses would have to start the whole divorce process again afresh.
This case serves as a warning of the risks associated with some online divorce providers, who may be able to provide spouses with a cheaper divorce at the outset, but at the risk that errors are made which could result in higher costs overall.
On 6 April 2022, the law is going to change when the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 comes into force. From then onwards, there will be ‘no-fault’ divorce, and so there will no longer be the requirement to evidence the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage, based on the unreasonable behaviour of the respondent spouse.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at October 2021.