Why DIY divorce can actually cost you more

Tue 7th Feb 2017

Coodes Solicitors Partner and Family Lawyer Elise Alma explains that while a DIY divorce might seem to save money it can sometimes cost more and can leave you vulnerable to future claims.

Everything is available online today and that includes Divorce. A DIY divorce is simply one where the parties deal with the process themselves rather than instructing Solicitors to handle it for them.

Divorce brings with it concerns about huge legal fees. Separating couples are often worried about the cost of going to a solicitor so decide to ‘do it themselves’.

Separating parties often believe that getting their Decree Absolute of Divorce dissolves all ties between them but in reality getting divorced is simply untying the marital knot and whilst it is a relatively straightforward legal process in most cases, it doesn’t deal with finances or children matters. Our blog on the ‘Four stages of divorce’ explains more about this.

Future risks of a DIY Divorce

Many people start divorce proceedings themselves, intending to save on Solicitors’ costs. This may indeed save some money in the short term. However, if no advice is sought then the risk is that the divorcing couple will not be aware of the potential on-going financial liability between them even after Decree Absolute.

In a recent Court of Appeal case, a couple had separated after a short marriage and had been divorced and lived apart. However, the husband had amassed a considerable fortune after they separated while his former wife had looked after their child on benefits.

The former wife was able to claim financial relief 18 years after the grant of the decree absolute.
Had the husband taken legal advice at the time of the divorce he would undoubtedly have been advised to obtain a clean break by way of a Court Order and his ex-wife could not then have made any claims against his future wealth.

Procedural problems

While filling out the forms might seem easy, if proceedings are issued incorrectly or there are errors on the Court forms then this can cause delay. In extreme cases the Court will refuse the divorce altogether. There are also jurisdictional issues to consider and especially where one party lives outside the UK this can be extremely difficult to get right.

Where a divorce is issued on the ground of adultery and the accused person then refuses to admit the adultery, the divorce cannot proceed. The only option then is to withdraw the proceedings and start again, incurring further Court fees of many hundreds of pounds.

It is best therefore to get the grounds agreed in advance where possible or to choose those that do not require co-operation from the other party if that is unlikely to be forthcoming.

Advice, even just initially, can often make the difference between smooth and swift progression to end the marriage as compared to months of costly uncertainty, delay and potential failure.”

For more information or advice on marital or relationship legal issues, please visit our Divorce and Separation pages or contact the Family Team at Coodes Solicitors on 0800 328 3282.

Tue 7th Feb 2017

Elise Alma


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