It is old news that the combination of excessive time spent with family over the festive period, high expectations and the financial burden of Christmas can be toxic for many marriages. The government has released statistics this month that confirm that 455 applications for divorce were filed online between 24 December 2018 and 1 January 2019 – and that this included 13 petitions filed on Christmas Day itself.

While it is now possible to file divorce petitions online – including on Christmas Day, should you so wish – there are a number of reasons for caution. We see many clients each year who have progressed their divorce without legal advice, and who subsequently incur costs and delays in trying to rectify mistakes which could have been easily avoided, if they had first spoken to a solicitor. Common mistakes can include:


  1. Providing the incorrect documents to accompany your divorce petition;
  2. Not considering whether England and Wales is the most appropriate jurisdiction for you to file for divorce – this can have very significant and irreversible implications on the resolution of financial matters;
  3. Failing to petition on the most appropriate basis and/or misunderstanding the effects of each of the reasons for divorce – for example, the implications of petitioning on one of the justifications that require your spouse’s consent;
  4. Providing the incorrect or insufficient information to justify your chosen basis for divorce – for example what is required in terms of particulars of unreasonable behaviour; and
  5. Failing to understand the Court’s expectations in relation to sharing the costs of the divorce.


We know that it is often tempting to take some concrete action and get matters under way, particularly in the immediate emotional aftermath of a separation. The filing of the divorce petition, however, is the first step of what can be a long and complicated process. Without the appropriate legal advice, the filing of the divorce petition can cause all manner of unknown and unforeseen problems, which could otherwise be avoided.


Harriet Wigmore is a solicitor in our family team based in Exeter. If you have and queries surrounding the contents of the article or divorce proceedings please contact our team on 01392 210700 or email