Worthing Newsletter – February 2019

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‘Tis the season for a (jolly or otherwise) fresh start for many…

Sadly, the Christmas period is historically a time for pre-existing family problems to boil over and culminate in further disputes and crisis. The wrangles with the in-laws as to which is truly the “best festive film ever” can, on a very minor scale, cause unpleasant feuding. Apparently insurmountable arguments and impasse with your estranged wife/husband/partner, about contact with your three year old daughter, can be a serious tipping point.

The New Year heralds positivity and the prospect of change, welcome and not so welcome. Many of us feel galvanised and ready to do that which previously seemed beyond our capabilities. Therefore, it comes with no surprise that the period of December 2018 and January 2019 has seen hundreds of people applying for a divorce. This news was revealed by the government in its latest announcement claiming success in moving justice processes online. Something of a festive offering of a glass of mulled wine, a mince pie and a Decree Absolute to take away. (Only the Decree Absolute is part of the online package in fact.)

In total more than 23,000 applications for divorce have been made online since the service was launched in April 2018. That includes 455 applications filed between 24 December 2018 and 1 January 2019 – with 13 submitted on Christmas Day itself! (More productive than watching a classic John Hughes film which you have seen every year for the last 15 years-? Quite possibly.) The Ministry of Justice is keen to proclaim the benefits of the fledgling system, which has been introduced as part of the wider £1bn modernisation programme.

As lawyers expertly equipped to advise as to the divorce process, my colleague Jackie Gifford and I can appreciate the possible benefits of online services to those with a relatively straight forward divorce situation, for instance an agreed basis for the divorce; short marriage; separate finances and no children.
However! Very few break ups are without the need for specific, tailored advice as to the finances and/or children’s matters, even where the facts of the break up are agreed between the parties and all appears simple. And, the government is necessarily and quite properly, a neutral body, and the Court an impartial forum and so advice about the divorce and or related issues should always be sought from lawyers and preferably Resolution trained Family lawyers.

And as for the online method saving time and costs-? Well, that is only true if the forms are completed correctly in the first place. Ticking the right box is not pedantic, it’s essential. Having to come to see a lawyer about starting afresh or amending papers can be more costly than taking advice in the first place; a definite false economising.

If convenience is a key factor in obtaining a divorce, we at Bennett Griffin can accommodate by matching the service package to your needs. In short, if you want us to take it off your hands, that’s what we’ll do. We will report back to you with updates and advice about the progress of your divorce, including as to any issues which arise if, despite initial assurances, the other party does not co-operate (yes, it happens).

Your time is valuable and you need the most important aspects of your life to be looked after well. Invite us to work for and with you and we’ll give you the peace of mind and space to focus on the less vital things in life, such as: is the best festive film ever “Home Alone (no.1 of course)” or “National Lampoons”-? We look forward to helping you in 2019 and as a result, we hope that you will decide that “It’s a Wonderful Life”…

Jacqueline Mensah is a Family and Collaborative Lawyer and Jackie Gifford is a Family Lawyer and Mediator. Both are Resolution trained and have combined expertise in a vast array of family issues. Bennett Griffin’s Family team welcomes all enquiries, in confidence and at your convenience.