The UK competition watchdog has announced that it intends to examine claims made by online divorce services in light of concerns that the services offered by them are unregulated and that some have made misleading claims about the simplicity of the process and their pricing and the adequacy if the service provided.
Since 6 April 2022, when the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 was implemented, all divorces are now dealt with on a no-fault basis, and through an online Court procedure.
Whilst the process is relatively simple and straightforward, the enticement of a cheap online do-it-yourself divorce or “quickie divorce” service may seem attractive, there remain risks.
Is DIY divorce quicker?
In spite of what is claimed, a “quickie divorce” is not possible. There is a strict court timetable which, with the advent of no-fault divorce, includes a 20-week period of reflection which means that, unless there are exceptional circumstances, the party or parties who apply for the divorce cannot progress the application for a 20-week period after the application has been issued, the intention being that this time be used to settle future arrangements with regard to finances and any dependent children.
Is DIY divorce cheaper?
The claim that online divorce is cheaper than paying for lawyers can be appealing but it can also be misleading. The advertised price may not make mention of the court fee of £593, which is payable when the application is sent to the court and whilst a go it alone approach is cheaper because you will not be paying legal fees, there is a reason why legal fees are payable – we are the experts, and we know what we are doing.
Do I really need a lawyer to get a divorce?
In England and Wales it is not obligatory to instruct a lawyer to get a divorce. Whilst it may appear easy to go through the online process, issues can arise, for example, if the respondent does not engage in the process.
A common assumption of “now I’m divorced my spouse cannot make a claim against my finances” is not strictly true but, of course, this will not be explained in the DIY process and is also unlikely to be covered when using a quickie divorce service.
The effect of being divorced is that you are no longer a spouse. Should your ex-spouse pre-decease you, you will lose the benefit of inheriting from your ex-spouse’s Will/their estate and any pension entitlement.
Although mechanically, the divorce process may be straightforward, the related finances are complex, especially with regard to pensions. By receiving legal advice, at the outset we can advise you on all of these aspects that are often overlooked by the appealing quickie divorce or DIY process.
We’re here to help
Whilst attractive, it is worth remembering that you get what you pay for. With expert legal advice, you can obtain a divorce avoiding any potential pitfalls which could prove very costly either now or in the future.
We have experienced, professional and sympathetic family lawyers who can advise you on all aspects of relationship breakdown. This includes divorce, separation and the resolution of financial and children matters. For more information, please contact our family team who will be happy to help.