When a marriage breaks down, divorce is often the next logical step. In an attempt to save time or money – or both – some people opt for the DIY divorce. Is a DIY divorce really the stress-free option or will it end up costing you more – both financially and emotionally – in the long run? We take a closer look…
What is a DIY divorce?
A do-it-yourself divorce is when a separated couple decides to legally end their marriage with no (or very little) help from a solicitor.
Some people choose to undertake the divorce process themselves in order to save money.
In fact, it is perfectly possible to file for divorce yourself by filling in a divorce petition (a D8 form) and paying the obligatory £550 in court fees. There is no requirement to have a solicitor do this for you or to obtain any legal advice at all. However, anyone opting for this method should understand that it does not come without its risks.
Why should I avoid DIY divorce?
The divorce process itself is actually mainly paperwork. As long as both of you agree to the divorce and the reason for the divorce, you can complete all of the paperwork yourselves. However, be aware that if you make any mistakes on the divorce petition, this could cause unnecessary delays to the divorce process.
Many couples encounter problems when it comes to agreeing how to split their finances. The financial process is actually completely separate to the divorce process itself, although it often runs concurrently with it. Without legal advice from a solicitor experienced in this area of law, negotiations could stall, again causing delays to the divorce process (the decree absolute – the legal end of a marriage – is usually not applied for until the financial settlement has been agreed).
Moreover, many people make the mistake of believing that if they have little or no finances, they do not need to deal with this element of a divorce. However, ignoring the financial side of divorce could be dangerous, in that it could leave you open to claims for money from your ex-spouse in the future.
We would always recommend that anyone going through a divorce – or about to begin the divorce process – book at least one appointment with a solicitor, in order to ensure they fully understand their rights and receive advice to ensure that the financial side of things is dealt with. Get in touch to book your free consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers today.
Neil Scott Graham, a Partner at Grayfords, comments as follows: “The benefit of avoiding litigation where possible, and minimising legal costs and the involvement of solicitors in trying to reach an agreement cannot be overstated. Not all cases, however, can be resolved without litigation especially where the assets are complex or difficult to value or where the parties’ positions are too far apart to resolve. Even where it is possible to resolve the proceedings by agreement an Order will usually need to be drafted both to ensure that the agreement is fully enforceable and also to ensure that neither party can make further claims against the other in the future or on the death of the other. Furthermore, the agreement still has to be approved by a Judge before it can be enshrined within a Court Order. The introduction of the on line divorce portal has made it easier to commence the divorce process itself although technical difficulties can still arise under the current legislation when applying for the Decree Nisi. The most important thing to remember is that even if the parties are able to reach an agreement through mediation or between themselves it is important to obtain formal advice on whether the agreement is fair and likely to be approved by the Court and on the terms of any Order required to give effect to it in order to avoid problems in the future.”