Counting the Cost of Divorce
A Somerset law firm has warned that divorced couples may have to return to court to renegotiate their financial settlements because of a glitch on a Government website.
Battens Solicitors, which is headquartered in Yeovil, says the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) software error shows why having a specialist family solicitor is so important.
It means that couples who used forms on the MoJ’s website may well have reached financial settlements based on flawed calculations.
Associate Lesley Powell, a newly appointed family law expert at Battens, said: “The Court requires each of the parties to fill in a comprehensive means form, a Form E, to settle financial matters in divorce proceedings.
“It appears that in some cases where Form E on the website has been relied upon to undertake automatic calculations, these calculations have been flawed. This may well have led to some incorrect settlements.”
The software blunder meant that some debts and other liabilities were not taken into account in calculations of property values in divorce cases. This could mean a return to court for couples to renegotiate the financial terms of their settlement.
Lesley, who has worked extensively in family law for the past 15 years, added: “This problem highlights the danger of ‘DIY’ divorces and the reliance on online forms and calculators.
“It emphasises the need for divorcing couples to obtain specialist legal advice and assistance, something our Family Team can help with.
“At Battens we offer a specialist personal service and the forms we use are not affected by this glitch.
“Our specialist Family lawyers go the extra mile and check the forms before sending them to our clients for approval and so any existing client should not be worried.”
Battens faces a customary rise in instructions from separating couples after the festive period.
The law firm ensures that a qualified mediator is on hand and ready to help at each of its offices in Yeovil, Sherborne, Dorchester and Weymouth.
Lesley, who is based in Battens’ office in Yeovil, is a member of the Law Society's Family Law Panel and a member of Resolution.
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