Although divorce lawyers are often highly professional, mistakes are somewhat inevitable. Every divorce lawyer is human, and every human being is capable of making serious errors. A divorce lawyer might accidentally make all kinds of mistakes, but most of these errors only cause slight inconveniences. What happens when a law firm makes a more costly mistake? What if an error causes a client to lose millions of dollars? One recent mistake made by a UK-based law firm shows how serious these mistakes can be. 

Couple’s Divorce Finalized Before Completion of Negotiations

A high-profile law firm in the United Kingdom recently made a major mistake – causing a millionaire couple’s divorce to become final before they had resolved their private negotiations. This particular firm has represented some of Britain’s most high-net-worth individuals – including business tycoons and international soccer players. According to the Daily Mail, this firm charges over 1,200 pounds (about $1,500) per hour – plus tax. 

The error occurred when an employee at the firm accidentally issued a final divorce order for the wrong couple. Although the employee intended to submit the application for a couple who were ready to finalize the process, they chose the wrong clients. These clients were reportedly still in the process of ironing out the details of their divorce – and they were not happy when they found out that their marriage had abruptly ended in the middle of negotiations. 

The law firm scrambled to rectify the mistake, asking the judge to rescind the order. However, the judge refused to comply and stood by their earlier decision to approve the application. The clerical error caused the approval of the divorce application within minutes – and there was no going back. 

Defending this decision, the judge stated that there was a strong public interest in upholding the “certainty and finality” of divorce orders. Backpedaling on this particular divorce decree, they argued, would send the wrong message – that divorces aren’t so “final” after all. 

The law firm hit back, arguing that the concept of “intent” was even more important. If the couple never intended to get divorced, then surely the decree should be invalid. After all, the law firm argued, the concept of intent is an important foundation of the UK legal system. This is the same law firm that helped establish the legality of prenuptial agreements in the UK due to a recent landmark decision. 

Computer Errors Continue to Cause Mayhem in Divorce Cases

This is not the first time computer systems have caused problems in divorce cases, and it probably won’t be the last. The UK is not the only nation struggling to adapt to evolving technology, either. 

In 2023, North Carolina was forced to announce that “dozens” of divorces might be invalid because of computer errors. This came after the Tar Heel State launched a new eCourts system, and it later became clear that this new system was flawed. Numerous spouses suddenly discovered that they were not legally divorced – and this affected the validity of new marriages, questions of child paternity, and other issues.