Approximately 40% of divorce petitions are issued online, but according to information supplied by the Ministry of Justice, online petitions result in a decree of divorce significantly less often than paper petitions.
The analysis of patterns of attitude and behaviour to online and paper petitions suggests that the slower process of filling in a hardcopy paper form and delivering it to a court office may feel more final and tangible, while the online process may sometimes act as a ‘cry for help’ in a relationship under strain – prompting couples to take action or seek help rather than pursue proceedings.
The Ministry of Justice report for the last two quarters of 2018 showed that despite an increase in online divorce petitions, between 14-23% fewer proceeded to a first decree, and 7-18% fewer had a final decree absolute as compared with paper petitions. Of divorces issued in the final quarter of 2018, more than double the amount of paper divorces (30%) than online divorces (12%) had reached the Decree Absolute stage.
Interestingly, between 10-19% of all petitions – both online and paper – weren’t even acknowledged by the respondent, suggesting that either they were not served or the couple decided not to go ahead with separation. Again, this indicates that the process of filing a petition is often a way of raising a red flag in a relationship, and may be the impetus needed to try to fix things. The difference between paper and online applications is that digital petitions are somewhat faster, less ‘tangible’ and more detached than actually filling in a form by hand, meaning that petitioners are more likely to go ahead with the submission online than in person.
Either way, issuing a divorce petition should be taken seriously, with careful consideration of the consequences. Before making any decisions about separation and divorce, the best approach is always to consult with a family law professional to discuss your circumstances and options, or seek help via relationships counselling.
For a free 45-minute appointment with a friendly, down-to-earth family lawyer, get in touch with us at www.franceslindsay.co.uk. Our offices are based in Maidenhead and our services cover the whole of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire including Windsor, Cookham, Marlow Beaconsfield, Burnham, Farnham Common and the Thames Valley.