In a development that extends the digital frontier still further, however, the Ministry of Justice announced this week that it is rolling out an online divorce package in the courts of England and Wales. Currently being piloted in three English courts, the package - involving "smart forms" that can be completed online without a solicitor - is intended to reduce costs and court processing times. The current system requires you to complete a lengthy paper form, sign a physical copy and get the court to serve it on your spouse. They then have to submit their own papers to the court before divorce can be granted. Under the new digital divorce plans, all of this would be done electronically.
The system has been endorsed by none other than Gary Lineker, who apparently used it to obtain a divorce from his ex-wife Danielle Bux for a frugal £400. Disappointingly, Mr Lineker was not inclined to give his divorce lawyer a celebrity endorsement, accusing the profession in general of setting out to "manipulate" the divorce process in order to run up people's bills unnecessarily.
While it's one thing to optimise the process of being divorced, it's important to bear in mind that this is usually the last step in the process for most people, not the first. This is particularly important in Scotland, where your financial claims against each other irrevocably come to an end once you are divorced (whereas in England you can sometimes make a claim afterward).
Before you ask the court to end your marriage, therefore, it's vital to have a full understanding of your rights and entitlements. Separation is one of the most important processes you can go through, and getting it wrong can wreck your financial future. Most of us divorce lawyers aren't interested in fanning the flames of conflict so we can clock up bigger bills for you. We just want to make sure you understand what you are entitled to ask for from your spouse, and are fairly treated overall.
That's not to say there is anything wrong with bringing divorce itself into the digital age. In my experience, clients who are used to dealing with officialdom online, from paying a parking fine to applying for a mortgage, find it odd that their divorce has to be dealt with using pieces of paper. Once you have resolved all financial and property issues, being able to apply for divorce online at the end of the process sounds like a welcome innovation. Hopefully the Scottish court system will consider introducing a similar system north of the border.
Ultimately, however, it's vital to get proper legal advice about the finances before you click through to the end of your marriage. After all, it's one thing to regret sending a Snapchat message the morning after, but imagine the hangover if you woke up to find yourself divorced.