Most online divorce providers have a very small "pool" of solicitors, often just two or three law firms and some only use a sole solicitor. This means the client has very little choice or control over which solicitor handles their case because, typically, the solicitor who is available will be allocated to the case as it comes in.
The difference between choosing an Oratto solicitor and using an online divorce provider
At Oratto, we put the power of choice back into the hands of the client.
You are able to select the solicitor you feel is best able to represent you, and your interests. You can view the profiles from a wide range of experienced, specialist family law solicitors and you choose your solicitor, rather than being allocated one that you know very little, or nothing, about.
Can I do the divorce myself?
In theory, yes you can. The divorce itself is the legal process to formally end a marriage – it doesn't resolve matters relating to finances or children and these are dealt with in tandem during a divorce, but they are separate processes.
Firstly, you will need to pay a standard mandatory Court Fee of £550 (unless you are on a very low income or certain state benefits in which case you may be eligible for a fee remission).
There are three separate stages to the divorce itself, and a minimum of four separate forms over those three stages to be completed. However, currently around 40% (four in every ten) divorce petitions are returned to the Petitioner because of an error (or multiple errors) in the original petition – and sometimes errors are made on the two forms used to apply for the Decree Nisi (sometimes referred to as a "Conditional Order").
It is a common misconception that when a petition and acknowledgement of service are sent to the Respondent, this means that the Court has accepted and "approved" the original petition as submitted by the Petitioner. This is not the case.
Often the petition itself is not properly reviewed until after the subsequent two forms required to apply for the decree nisi have been submitted and put in front of a Judge for approval along with the original petition and the completed acknowledgement of service from the respondent.
It can be at this stage, weeks after submitting the original petition, that any errors will be noticed, and the petition will then be returned to the Petitioner for amending. There is currently a fee of around £95 for each time the petition requires amending. As well as extending the length of time it takes to progress your divorce to the decree nisi stage (and in turn holding up the ability to submit a consent order to detail the financial settlement agreement), this will also add to the costs and the overall effects of an already stressful situation.
More difficulties for DIY divorce
The divorce process becomes complicated and difficult to follow if, for example:
- you don't know where your spouse lives
- your spouse has been deported and you do not know their whereabouts
- your spouse refuses to respond to your petition with the 'acknowledgement of service'
- if you are subject to a court order preventing you from contacting your spouse
- if your spouse lacks full mental capacity
- if your spouse is a long-term hospital inpatient
- if your spouse is serving a prison sentence
For such situations you will almost certainly require an experienced family law solicitor.
Accurate wording in divorce applications
The required wording in a 'statement of case' (setting out your 'grounds') can be difficult to write – not only is the statement of case required to be written in a specific way, it is also where you are describing the ending of your own marriage and many people find this incredibly distressing.
There are a large number of boxes to be ticked, and the wording used in the petition is not "plain English". It can be very confusing as to which box you need to tick.
By allowing an Oratto solicitor to handle the divorce process for you, you will have peace of mind that each form will be completed correctly and promptly, that they will return all the completed forms to Court and chase up the Respondent if required.
You can also be assured that the solicitors are fully qualified, insured and regulated.
Does the divorce sort out finances and child arrangements?
The short answer is no; you will need to make separate agreements regarding the financial settlement and arrangements for children.
Ideally, you will be able to mutually agree how the marital finances are shared, and what the arrangements for the children will be, after separation/divorce. However, if you need legal assistance to help with any of these aspects, for instance if there is a dispute over property or who will be the main carer for your children, then a family law solicitor will be best placed to offer you specific advice and help on your individual situation.
Even when you are in agreement you will still require a solicitor to write a legally binding consent order to detail the financial arrangements between you.
Let Orattto help you find the legal advice you need
Divorce is one of the most distressing, emotionally painful and stressful life situations a person can experience.
Using an Oratto solicitor to handle your divorce case will help alleviate some of that stress and you can feel safe in the knowledge that a professional is seeing through this complicated process on your behalf, leaving you free to focus on other matters, such as resolving issues regarding the financial settlement and/or child arrangements.
Contact Oratto today or use our Match service, so that we may suggest the divorce solicitor we feel best matches your particular circumstances.