DIY divorce has grown in popularity as splitting couples try to keep costs down. However, in some situations a DIY divorce can end up costing a lot more than simply instructing a solicitor in the first place. So, when is it a good idea?
If you and your partner are on the same page
If both people in the relationship want it to be dissolved permanently then a DIY divorce is possible. It’s important that everyone understands that the divorce is the last stage in the process of splitting – if either party is not sure then a trial separation may be a better idea. Where only one partner wants to divorce and the other wants to stay together then a DIY divorce is not a good idea. In this situation relationships can get very acrimonious and you may need to bring lawyers in eventually to resolve disputes.
If you’re confident about the paperwork
A mistake in the paperwork may mean that the court rejects the divorce petition. If that happens then the whole thing needs to be re-drafted and re-served. Whether you use a solicitor or not the court fee of £550 will be payable to issue the divorce petition – if you do make a mistake you’ll need to pay the court fee again.
You have plenty of time
Any divorce proceedings take between four and six months to conclude – at best (there is no magic six week divorce as has recently been quoted in the media). The more straightforward the divorce, the more likely it will fall within this four to six month time period. However, if you’re doing a DIY divorce then there are all sorts of delays that can arise, for example if one party fails to return the paperwork to acknowledge the divorce. If you are pushed for time then a DIY divorce can be difficult to achieve and the pressure can add to an already stressful situation.
You’re agreed on the financials
The biggest issue for anyone planning a DIY divorce is working out the financial settlement. A recent case - Vince v Wyatt – showed just how crucial it is to conclude finances early on in a divorce, as in that case the wife’s financial relief claim went ahead even though the separation had occurred 20 years before. Sometimes the only way to come to a swift agreement on financial matters is when a couple has advice from third parties. It’s also crucial to get advice on the financial implications of a split, for example with respect to future inheritance and children.