This blog post relates to previous divorce laws. On 6 April 2022, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 was implemented, heralding no-fault divorce. Read more in our blog post: No-fault divorce – the end of the blame game
With divorce rates increasing each year and the enticement of cheap, online do-it-yourself divorce services, it's no wonder that more people are contemplating taking the DIY route. But is it really worth the risk?
Is DIY divorce quicker?
In spite of what is claimed, a “quickie divorce” is not possible. There is a strict Court timetable. Once you have received your Decree Nisi there is a time period of 6 weeks and 1 day before you can apply for your Decree Absolute. This timetable cannot be altered by choosing a DIY divorce.
The timescale is also dependent on the demands of the Court and how quickly they can turn papers around. Again, a DIY divorce does not affect this. If anything, an online divorce could add delay as it is likely the forms will not be completed correctly and will be returned.
The claim that an online divorce is cheaper than paying for lawyers can also be appealing but, whilst being so, it is also misleading. The advertised price probably does not mention the Court fee of £550. This is payable when the application for divorce is sent to the Court.
The only reason a DIY divorce is cheaper is because you will not be paying legal fees. However, 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's not obligatory to instruct a lawyer to get a divorce. Although it may appear easy enough to fill out the divorce forms, if there are errors they will be returned by the Court. This will cause delay and may require amendment, incurring a further fee.
There are also financial implications if the forms are not completed correctly. For example, claiming a contribution of the fees of the divorce from your spouse or even limiting yourself making a claim in the future with regard to the finances.
A common assumption is ‘now I’m divorced my spouse cannot make a claim against my finances’. This is not strictly true but, of course, this will not be explained within the DIY process.
The effect of becoming divorced is that you are no longer a spouse. Should your ex-spouse predecease you, you will lose the benefit of inheriting from your ex-spouse’s Will/their estate and any pension entitlement.
Although mechanically the divorce may be straightforward, the related finances are complex, especially with regard to pensions. By receiving legal advice, we can advise you on all these aspects that are overlooked by the appealing DIY divorce adverts.
We're here to help
Whilst a DIY divorce may appear attractive because it's quicker and cheaper on the face of it, it's worth remembering that you get what you pay for. With expert legal advice, you can achieve your divorce in the most fair and correct way, helping you avoid any potential pitfalls 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 Law Team who would be happy to advise you.
Are you considering getting a divorce? Download our free guide and find out the six key decisions you need to make.