What are the pros and cons of a DIY divorce?
Is a DIY divorce a good idea? It can be, provided you have the right circumstances, but it’s not for everyone.
Divorcing couples can go through a DIY divorce by obtaining the necessary documents, completing the necessary forms, and working through the court processes for completing a divorce and resolving financial matters themselves. It’s understandable why a seemingly low-cost, quick divorce process is so appealing, especially during an emotionally difficult time.
If both parties are willing and able to divorce amicably and they have only minimal or very simple assets, it may be possible to achieve a fair and simple DIY divorce. The process may seem easier and cheaper than engaging a lawyer to act on your behalf.
Before deciding whether to proceed with a DIY divorce, there are some things you should know. For example, it is important that the needs of any children are taken care of as a priority. You should also be sure that you fully understand any rights you are giving up or any risks you leave yourself exposed to in the future.
As a firm, we understand how stressful and emotional the separation process can be. However, we offer you professional, unbiased advice. In this post, we will look at the pros and cons of DIY divorces instead of hiring a solicitor.
What you need to consider
When you get divorced, a number of the rights acquired as a married person cease to apply, so it is important to consider how these changes need to be handled.
If you are married and your spouse does not have a Will, you are protected by the laws of intestacy if they die without one. However, once divorced, you are no longer a spouse, so you would not be entitled to the same rights under intestacy rules.
Also, any provisions in your will that benefit your spouse will no longer apply after a divorce. Additionally, you may lose any rights you have had under your spouse’s pension provisions. It is very important to take these considerations into account and, if necessary, address them before you finalise your divorce.
There’s no doubt as to why people want to avoid solicitors and their fees, but when you act in person or only look for information online you will miss out on . expert, tailored legal advice to help you understand how separation will affect you, what your legal rights are, and what else needs to happen to ensure your future protection and welfare.
Reducing divorce costs
This is perhaps the most common reason couples opt for a DIY divorce. As many separated couples struggle financially in the current economy, it should come as no surprise that the prospect of a low-cost divorce is tempting.
DIY divorces packages may be available for a few hundred pounds, in addition to the current cost of the court fee for a divorce. Having your own solicitor act for you can be significantly more for both parties if they require legal assistance in their negotiations and preparing the necessary documentation to finalise matters such as a financial settlement. By cutting out the need for solicitors and other professional advisors, DIY divorces can cost much less.
Streamlining the process
A DIY divorce package provides some information and documentation which may simplify and explain the divorce process to the parties. For many people, the divorce process is overwhelming and confusing.
Even if there are substantial assets, dividing them can be straightforward if both spouses agree on how to proceed. It is important to document any agreement reached about the marital assets and obtain a consent order to dismiss any future financial claims. To do this, you will need a lawyer, and their fees will vary. In most cases, however, it is prudent to do so for your own protection, since financial claims can be made against you even years after the divorce has already been finalised.
A lack of understanding
The seeming expense of family law solicitors can deter many people. But the old saying is true: You get what you pay for. Seeking the assistance of a reputable lawyer can be worth it since they can provide clarity if you are unclear about something or have overlooked an important issue.
A family law expert will help you determine if your intended division of assets is as fair as you thinks it is, or if you’ll be better off with an alternative solution that’s more advantageous.
The risk of mistakes
A divorce is a permanent step, and mistakes can be very difficult (or even impossible) to undo and very costly. Without specialist legal advice, you can also get things wrong, which can delay matters and increase costs.
They cannot fully facilitate complex cases
It can be hard to come to an agreement that is fair for both parties, even when things seem relatively amicable. Making sure that the needs of any children are properly met, dealing with the sale or transfer of properties, division of capital assets, and fairly addressing disparities in incomes and pensions will almost certainly require specialist legal advice.
Divorcing without independent, tailored legal advice can be very risky, particularly if you have any significant assets or are in disagreement about any aspect of the divorce.
You may encounter hidden fees or delays
There are additional fees to pay on top of the cost of a DIY package, such as the £593 court fee, whether or not 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.
An unrepresented party can delay the divorce process if their 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.
A financial order is needed, even if you did not have any joint assets, to prevent your spouse from making financial claims against you in the future. Because divorce will affect pension entitlements and inheritance rights, it’s quite common for the financial agreements to be finalised into a court order before the divorce is granted.
A solicitor should draft the financial agreement to ensure that it includes all of the essential information and provides the protection that is needed.
You may also need advice to make appropriate arrangements for children, such as agreeing where they will live and how you will make sure they are able to maintain the best possible relationship with each parent.
You may not be getting a fair settlement
Getting a fair settlement can be difficult even if you divorce or dissolve your civil partnership on good terms. If you are looking to feel confident in your outcome, it really pays to have an expert on your side.
You are much less burdened by the process if someone simplifies it and explains everything to you so that you are completely confident in what you’re signing.
You can benefit from the emotional support and guidance of professionals
When you end your marriage, you are likely to feel overwhelmed and emotionally worn out. A professional can guide you through the decision-making process in such a way that you feel confident that your choices are rational and you will still be happy with them in the future.
If issues aren’t identified at the start, they could be overlooked, resulting in a detrimental outcome. Ongoing advice and face-to-face meetings ensure everything is thoroughly explored and issues are resolved.
Regardless of how straightforward your situation may seem, there are many cases that require a solicitor’s skills, experience and judgement. Most people will benefit from having support from someone who knows all the steps and guides you through the process.
Whilst it’s understandable that more and more couples in the UK are choosing to divorce without legal assistance, this is not generally advisable. The monetary benefit of foregoing solicitor’s fees can easily be offset by expenses incurred as a result of improperly filed legal documents or unfair settlements decided upon without thorough research and evaluation.
Couples looking for a ‘quick fix’ might also find themselves disappointed by court delays and lengthy waiting periods following errors in their divorce papers or financial settlements.
When your future finances and the wellbeing of children are in the balance, it always pays to put in the work and make sure you have made the right choice. This is best done with the assistance of a legal professional who can offer experience, advice, and support during this process.
Collaborative Family Law
If you are keen to keep your separation as amicable as possible but would like the support of a professional, collaborative family law can be a very useful option.
In almost every case, the process can be accomplished more quickly than going through litigation. However, both parties need to be willing to engage in this process. By participating in the collaborative law process, both partners commit to reaching an agreement without pursuing litigation.
Collaborative law is based on mutual trust. To benefit from this solution, each spouse needs to be open and disclose all financial information. While working together to reach agreements, each spouse must respect the other’s viewpoint.
Once you have reached an agreement through the collaborative process, you can still submit a consent order to the court to make the agreement binding..
Both partners will be assisted by separate solicitors, who are both trained in the collaborative process. The solicitors help both partners solve any issues that arise.
You can focus on what matters to you and your family when you select collaborative law for family matters.
Still thinking of a DIY divorce?
At Harbour Family Law, we provide comprehensive support that will assist you in completing all necessary paperwork for your divorce. You can take a look through our blog posts and guides to learn more about the process.
How we can help
Here at Harbour Family Law, we seek a fair, timely, and amicable resolution to separation wherever possible. Providing support, guidance, and advice to our clients facilitates a fair outcome, the preservation of relationships, as well as the protection of them and their children.
Whether you’re just after advice or you’re looking for help with the legal process, our team of specialist family law solicitors are more than happy to have a chat with you about your situation.
Please contact us by email or telephone to arrange an initial consultation.