Online divorce: You pay peanuts – you get a criminal record

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A cautionary tale for those thinking of using online divorce services. Whilst these may well on the face of it seem like a cost effective way of dissolving your marriage, you could end up with a great deal more than you bargained for.

Recently, a Welsh gentleman pleaded guilty to bigamy following his second marriage. He had apparently used an online divorce service for which he’d paid £600 in fees and believed that he was divorced. His second wedding certainly wasn’t a small affair; he had told his new wife of his previous marriage and that, so far as he believed, he was divorced. The wedding took place in church – whatever paperwork was provided to the presiding vicar clearly didn’t ring the alarm bells that it should have but no doubt the groom professed himself as free to marry in the belief that he was. Photos of the newly weds on their big day and on their honeymoon were of course shared on social media and came to the attention of a friend of his first wife – who shared! And the outcome?

A criminal record, a £400 fine, an additional £400 in costs, plus the wasted costs of the wedding and the honeymoon and the legal fees for the solicitor who defended him on the bigamy charge. The ultimate irony is that if he’d come to Slee Blackwell one of our specialist family team would have prepared his divorce documentation for him for a fixed fee no greater than what he paid on line! And we’d have made very sure that we dealt with all the paperwork — not just bits of it. The divorce process is just like any other area of the law. Putting right things that have gone wrong will always cost far, far more than getting them done right in the first place.

At Slee Blackwell we’re happy to see all family law clients for an initial chat free of charge so that you can get proper information about what we can and can’t do for you and the costs involved. We offer fixed fees where appropriate with different ranges depending on the level of involvement you ask us to provide. We offer our Law on Demand service where we will guide you acting in person by meeting with you only when you need us to and charging you for the time we spend in those meetings. We pride ourselves on providing a flexible tailored service that meets your individual needs and budget.