A new form invites applicants to name the third party involved if the petitioner is seeking divorce on the grounds of adultery. Our Head of Family Law, Stephen Hopwood, has concerns.
The newly-designed on-line form to apply for a divorce in England and Wales asks for the name "of the person your spouse has committed adultery with".
While I completely understand the temptation to do this in an acrimonious separation, I would not recommend naming the third party in any event as it simply causes friction and adds to the costs of the process.
Divorce is a painful enough process at the best of times and adding any further conflict should be avoided.
The intention of the form is to make the legal process simpler and there is no obligation to include the name of the third party, even though there is a box for those who wish to, but I am concerned that the wording will make people more likely to “name and shame”.
In addition, if a third party is named, they will then become part of the case and need to be sent copies of the paperwork and asked to respond. This may mean that proceedings are delayed and give rise to more costs than necessary.
This is one of the reasons that it is important to seek legal advice before you begin proceedings. In a case of the heart leading the head such as this, it can add unwanted time, cost and upset to the whole process.