Thousands of settlements affected by error in divorce software

A broken heart is one thing, but add broken software into the equation and you can have a major problem on your hands. Going through a divorce is a difficult enough time for anyone without encountering technology faults that make the whole process more stressful.

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Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened to thousands of people in the UK at the end of last year thanks to a bug uncovered in a government computer system. The problem affected an online form filled in by people seeking a divorce in order to calculate their finances. At least you can be sure that when it comes to a Cheltenham Power of Attorney based company like  they will make sure everything is covered.

Thousands affected

The form on the Ministry of Justice website had been delivering incorrect calculations since as far back as 2014, and it’s estimated that the problem could impact as many as 20,000 people who have used the form in the time since it went live.

The issue only affects users who have filled in the form online and let the MoJ site carry out the calculation for them. People who printed the form out and carried out the calculation manually will not have a problem.

Errors in government computer systems are not uncommon, but they invariably become big news. This is a salutary lesson for anyone developing a critical system that testing is important. Using software testing services can help locate problems before they reach the end user and make the headlines.

What went wrong?

The form had an error that meant that financial liabilities – such as debts – weren’t subtracted from calculations of the person’s assets. This could lead to an inflated net worth value, which in turn could result in an incorrect divorce settlement.

What’s surprising is that the problem was there for so long before anyone noticed it. The form would have been seen by many lawyers, judges and academics, yet no one noticed the flaw until Nicola Matheson-Durrant of the Family Law Clinic in Ascot, Berkshire, spotted a problem with her client’s calculations and pointed out the mistake.

Anyone who thinks they might have suffered from the problem and been awarded an incorrect settlement as a result is advised to contact HM Courts and Tribunal Service. The service is taking steps to identify those affected and will be writing to them once it has done so.