Australians go mad for online divorce

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HUSBANDS and wives are flooding a new government online divorce service which critics say makes marriage break-ups too easy.

Figures obtained by The Advertiser show one in 10 South Australian divorcees are using an online submission at www.divorce.gov.au which provides a free 24-hour-a-day service without any referral to counselling.

The system, introduced late last year, replaces a person or lawyer appearing to file for a divorce or application by hand or mail.

Australian Family Association spokesman Jerome Appleby said the Government should be doing more to keep couples together and that the service made a “mockery of marriage to promote the idea that it can be ended online”.

Family Law Courts figures obtained by The Advertiser show 142 of the 1477 people seeking a divorce since the system was introduced in September used the online option.

SA Law Society president Richard Mellows said there should be more emphasis on the system referring couples to counselling.

There are links to counselling on the Family Law Courts website but people filling out the online form do not have to go through these windows to get to the application.

Applicants are advised to read a link about the practical considerations of separation and divorce but it is not compulsory.

Mr Mellows said the Law Society was very supportive of counselling provided by the courts. “I can understand why (the online service) attracts interest because it is a fast-track of the administrative process but the court process has to be followed,” he said.

Mr Appleby said the fact that a later court process must be followed was irrelevant because people could start the process online and were unlikely to reverse their decision.

Under the system couples must still make a final court appearance if they have a child under 18. Once the form is filed the applicant can pay $432 online and even print off a completed application and serve it on their partner. They then turn up at the court date provided online.

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This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of the Divorce Online Blog and Managing Director of Online Legal Service Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.

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