A new "DIY" divorce form designed to speed up the process could lead to thousands more people being accused of adultery, lawyers warn.
The new form, which was introduced on Monday, prominently includes a dedicated section for a petitioner to fill in the details of "the person your partner committed adultery with".
Anyone named on the form becomes party to the case and receives a letter letting them know why - leading to the possibility that many more people could receive documents telling them they have been accused of adultery.
Applicants do not have to name the person they believe tempted their partner to stray - but experts are concerned that many more could fill in the section either through misunderstanding or deliberately, to get back at their former partner
.Laura Guillon, an associate at law firm Hall Brown, said: "The idea is to try and make the process more user-friendly, because the court is inundated with people representing themselves.
"Without the benefit of advice we could get more people naming co-respondents, because they don't understand that they don't have to."
Previously the section for their name and address was at the bottom of the form in a section called "service details".
The term "adultery" was not used in this section, which instead described the person only as a "co-respondent".
Nigel Shepherd, chairman of family law group Resolution, said clients sometimes had to be "talked out of" naming their partner's new girlfriend or boyfriend.
"Sometimes people say 'I'd like to name her - it's her fault, or his fault'", he said.
The new paperwork is meant to make divorce an easier process for the rising number of people who do not hire a lawyer to manage it for them.
According to the most recent figures adultery was cited as the reason in 12,148 divorce cases in 2015.
Figures show that one in three petitions for divorce is now filed without legal advice, meaning thousands of people will be filling out the forms without guidance.
Previously the form included arcane legal language and references to statute but it is now set out more clearly with guidance for applicants.
It also contains more questions which can be answered through tick-boxes.
Experts say it is a step towards “digital divorce” which will eventually see couples able to manage the process entirely through filling in online forms.
But the change could also lead to legal and administrative delays as those who have been accused of tempting a married person to stray protest their innocence, causing an increase in "defended" divorces.
Rosie Schumm, partner in family law at law firm Forsters, said the section could have been written with "more thought" to avoid the issue.
"I think when people are filling this form out on automatic pilot that may mean that they are putting in more details than they used to," she said.
But, she added, the form brought other benefits, including an option for a petitioner to ask that their address be hidden from their former partner, which will help victims of domestic abuse who do not want to disclose where they are.
Mr Shepherd said Resolution would “petition quite strongly for change” if there was an increase in adultery accusations as a result of the new form, which he said was otherwise simpler and easier to use.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “It has always been possible for a petitioner to name the person they believe their spouse has committed adultery with on divorce application forms.
“As set out in the previous form, and more clearly in the new form, there is obviously no obligation to do so. This is a relevant part of divorce proceedings."
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