A rising number of couples are resorting to DIY services in an attempt to reduce the costs of divorce. Filing for a divorce independently can cost as little as £550, which is the court fee for a divorce petition.
If you are planning on doing your own, it’s important to be aware of what divorce or dissolution means. Divorce or dissolution is a general term that means the breakdown of a relationship, which includes formally ending a marriage or civil partnership, dividing finances and making arrangements for children.
What is a DIY Divorce?
A DIY divorce (do-it-yourself divorce) is where an individual and their ex-partner (this includes husband, wife or civil partner) go through the divorce or dissolution process with little or no help from a solicitor. Couples can obtain and complete necessary forms and documents, and work through the court processes for completing a divorce and sorting financial matters themselves.
Couples might opt for a DIY divorce if they are both willing and able to separate amicably and have simple or minimal assets to take into consideration.
What to Consider with a DIY Divorce
If you are considering a DIY divorce, there are things you need to think about before doing so. Certain rights you have acquired as a married person will no longer apply, so it’s important you’re aware of all the facts.
The perceived speed and convenience of a DIY divorce can be appealing, and since 2018 you can now petition for a divorce online. This may be suitable for a straightforward divorce, however, the divorce process can be complicated, especially where there are children and assets involved.
It’s also important to remember that amicable decisions reached between yourself and your spouse could change as the divorce process goes on.
Advantages of a DIY Divorce
As mentioned, a DIY divorce can save you money, which is probably the most common reason people might consider it. By cutting out the need for solicitors and other advisors, a DIY divorce can keep costs to a minimum.
Disadvantages of a DIY Divorce
A lack of understanding of the process can mean you aren’t getting what you’re entitled to. A legal expert can provide clarity for anything you might be unclear about, or highlight potential issues you may have missed. Solicitors can provide guidance of the division of assets, and advise on what will be the best solution.
High Risk of Mistakes
Without specialist knowledge, the risk of making mistakes is much greater. As a divorce is permanent, any mistakes made can be extremely difficult to rectify. It could also end up costing a lot of money and delaying the process. This is why DIY divorces are only suitable for very straightforward cases.
Lack of Legal Understanding
Instructing a solicitor can provide clarity if you are unclear about an important legal issue or if you don’t fully understand the implications of some of the actions you take throughout the divorce process.
It’s also important to understand that each divorce is unique to the persons involved, and you may need additional advice to protect your best interests. For example, a financial order may be needed to prevent your spouse from making financial claims against you in the future. A solicitor can draft the financial agreement to ensure that it includes all the essential information and provides the protection that is needed. Without legal knowledge and understanding this may contain errors.
Hidden Fees and Delays
Whilst a DIY divorce is a cheaper option, there are additional fees to pay on top of the cost of a DIY package, such as court fees, whether you opt to have a solicitor. Even a DIY divorce may seem cheap and easy, but it will typically only cover the most basic paperwork.
If you are unrepresented during the divorce process, this can cause delays if your paperwork is not in order or has not been completed correctly. Having a solicitor by your side will give you peace of mind that it will all be handled correctly and in a timely order.
You May Not Get a Fair Settlement
Getting a fair settlement can be difficult, even if your relationship ends on good terms. If you are looking to feel confident in your divorce outcome, it really pays to have an expert family law solicitor on your side to ensure you get the best possible outcome.
When is a DIY Divorce Not Suitable?
As mentioned, a DIY divorce is not suitable for the majority of cases and you should always seek professional legal advice, especially when the following occurs:
- If there is disagreement over the grounds for divorce.
- If you want advice about claiming costs from your spouse.
- If you wish to be legally separated but not divorced.
- If you are presenting a petition for an annulment.
- If you have been married for less than 12 months.
- If you are in a civil partnership.
- If there are assets either jointly owned or owned by one person, for example property, pensions, savings, shares, endowments, trusts, companies.
- If there are disagreements over where a child should live and how much time they should spend with each parent.
How Can a Solicitor Help with a Divorce?
Some online companies will charge a small fee to prepare a divorce petition. Those fees will not cover advice on how finances can be divided.
It is essential that advice is obtained from a specialist at an early stage and important that people who are divorcing become financially as well as legally divorced to ensure claims cannot be made by their spouse against their assets after the divorce.
A solicitor can help with your divorce in a number of ways, most importantly to ensure that you:
- Fully understand the ‘legal jargon’ and the implications of the actions you are taking.
- Use the right words in your divorce petition as a judge will need to approve it and choose the most appropriate reasons for ending your marriage or civil partnership.
- Deal with your divorce, financial matters and arrangements for your children all at the same time.
- You gain impartial and professional advice on whether a financial settlement that you and your ex-spouse have agreed upon is fair – you could be entitled to more!
- You receive full advice from a specialist if you don’t know where to start
- Choose the best possible outcome for your children
It is also important to consider the emotional and physical strain a divorce can have. Having someone you can trust on your side can help take some worry and pain away, and ensure that the process is as quick and stress-free as possible for you. This is something you will not be afforded in a DIY divorce.
Divorce Solicitors at Howells
Here at Howells, our Family Law team can help you through your divorce, providing invaluable support and guidance along the way. We have specialists that can help with all aspects of the process including child custody and access, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, financial settlements and collaborative law.
You can email Howells to make an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit our website or call us:
Sheffield: 0114 249 66 66
Barnsley: 0122 680 51 90
Rotherham: 0170 936 40 00
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