What’s changing with legal forms in 2022: Divorce and family forms focus

27/05/22

In conversation with Paul Clyde and Archie Courage

In our 17th May webinar, ‘What’s changing with legal forms in 2022’, our Chairman Julian Bryan was joined by Paul Clyde (Commercial Director at FormEvo) and Archie Courage (Managing Director at FormEvo) to discover changes and enhancements to the Quill Forms catalogue, with specific reference to the D81 and FormE, e-signature functionality, and the future roadmap for divorce and family forms. Here we caught up with Paul post-webinar for a helpful recap of what we covered on the day…

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To kick things off, tell us about the new no-fault divorce rules.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act obtained royal assent in June 2020 and came into force on 6th April 2022. Now, married and civil partnership couples can obtain a divorce without having to blame the other party. The ‘decree nisi’ and ‘decree absolute’ are no more; bringing in their place the ‘conditional order’ and ‘final order’ respectively. These changes are being labelled the biggest shake up of divorce laws in England and Wales for 50 years.

What does no-fault divorce mean for legal forms?

As a result of the language changes, removal of the possibility of contesting divorce, option for joint application and move to digitisation associated with this new legislation, there are 12 amended forms and 5 new forms in the Quill Forms library.

In keeping with our aim to always provide added value to newly introduced forms, we’ve introduced a raft of new features to aid users in the completion of complicated divorce and family forms which we’ll cover below.

What’s the D81 and how does it work in Quill Forms?

The D81 form, titled ‘Statement of information for a consent order in relation to a family remedy’, sets out financial and property arrangements for a court to decide whether (or not) a separating couple’s plans are fair. While government agencies were advising pages on this form should be photocopied to cater for expansive information about property portfolios, we didn’t think this was making the most of legal technology.

As such, we created a practical solution to the form-space dilemma. In the Quill Forms suite, we moved content so that property information is collated onto one page rather than two pages, and there’s a button to ‘Copy Page’ to add more pages for additional property details. There are automatic calculations throughout and a running total calculation for further ease-of-use and time-saving benefits.

A couple of other points of note about this form, the first being how we maintain a live courts database for you to pick from a drop-down selection – to save yet more time and improve accuracy. Any changes to courts are actioned overnight in our database. The second being navigation which tends to be done by the arrow keys. With this lengthy form, we’ve devised a bookmarking system to navigate precisely to the start of any particular section in a split second.

Lots of our software users asked for a place to host extra details not addressed within existing form fields. The result is our ‘Notes’ field for data such as property valuation dates not catered for elsewhere.

Moving on to the FormE, how has this form been enhanced?

The FormE ‘Financial statement’ also comes with the advantage of daily-updated court databases for automatic and accurate data population. We found that some sections of the form were somewhat limiting in how many rows there are – number of children, for instance. We’ve incorporated the facility to add additional rows at the click of a button.

As with the D81, there’s auto-calculation and a ‘Comments’ field for information not accommodated in standard fields. Pensions could be a challenge with your current forms system. In Quill Forms, not so, as our platform permits the entry of complex, voluminous pensions data.

What other new and enhanced features are available, especially regarding e-signatures?

In the navigation panel, headed ‘Form Bundle and Bookmarks’, there’s a traffic light colour scheme. Green denotes that section’s complete; orange is started but not finished; white isn’t started yet. The green colouring is activated by ticking the ‘Completed’ box located at the end of each form section. This feature allows you to quickly see what has (and hasn’t) been done. Before sharing the form with your client, ensure it’s green everywhere.

Sharing itself couldn’t be easier. Just click the ‘Share Client / 3rd Party’ button, select how to share (adding comments, editing the actual form and e-signing variously).

On the important subject of e-signatures, Quill Forms has been upgraded with advanced-level electronic signature functionality comprising two-factor authentication with a code sent to clients’ mobiles and inserted into the vault screen to gain access to the forms. There are form customisation capabilities too which is essentially managing and separating the audit trails and signed form versions between the two sides of a divorce matter without causing contention.

We always listen to feedback from Quill Form users. A common request recently was assistance with form completion via reminders. You now have the ability to set deadlines by clicking the ‘Form Deadlines’ button to send a reminder email to the person concerned – including yourself.

Drawing to a close by pointing out a few other nifty features in Quill Forms, audit trailing permits you to see who’s done what when. The form status tool shows the ‘draft’ watermark on generated PDFs, and forms can be tagged as finalised to remove this watermark. Later, forms can be unfinalised if it transpires it wasn’t fully complete.

Are there enhancements coming this summer? What’s in the roadmap?

At around the end-of-June time, expect to see inline form comments and client editing controls. The former is adding notes alongside form sections as guidance for other users when completing forms. The latter is ticking a box next to form sections so that clients can’t edit those fields. Both of these enhancements are the outcome of responding to client feedback.

What’s the commercial model for Quill Forms?

Costs are on a per-user basis. If Quill Forms software users create, edit or complete forms, a monthly fee of £12* is charged. There’s a minimum fee of £24 per month which equates to two users within a firm.

Getting access to Quill Forms is a straightforward process. For existing clients, within the Quill software environment, go to Quill Forms via ‘Docs’ (top toolbar) > ‘My Forms’ or ‘Forms Library’ (left-hand panel). From here, access existing forms and buy new forms courtesy of tight integration between Quill and FormEvo. You’ll find the D81 or FormE in the ‘Divorce’ folder. All purchased forms are added to your law firm’s catalogue of live forms in Quill.

Aside from an impressive array of divorce and family forms, the 2,000+ library covers a host of other popular electronic forms (where the output is a PDF) and digital forms (where data is submitted directly to the relevant government agency).

Getting started with Quill Forms

For anyone who’s not yet a Quill client, signing up is easy. Email forms@quill.co.uk or call 0161 236 2910 and the Quill team will set you up in next-to-no time. Read more at www.quill.co.uk/legal-software/forms.

* Agency fees for digital submissions will still apply for the year.

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