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Is a do-it-yourself divorce a good idea?

View profile for Helen Duthie
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Most people getting divorced use solicitors to manage the process, which has a number of key benefits for both parties involved. However, recently the idea of the  "do-it-yourself" divorce has begun to gain some traction in the public consciousness.

DIY divorces can seem appealing, as there is the potential to save money on solicitors’ fees and it might appear to be a less adversarial way to handle the break-up of your marriage. However, there are some serious problems that can occur when trying to manage your own divorce without expert help, even when your situation seems relatively straightforward.

In this article, we look at exactly what do-it-yourself divorces are, how they work, what risks are involved and why you are often much better off relying on the professionals to handle your divorce for you.

What is a DIY divorce?

A do-it-yourself is exactly what it sounds like – a divorce and financial proceedings that you handle yourself without professional help. It can offer a fast, straightforward and cheap way to end your marriage, but this kind of divorce is only suitable for a relatively narrow range of people.

A DIY divorce may be worth considering if your joint finances are fairly simple, you don’t have any children and you still have a good relationship with your spouse. However, even divorces that seem simple at first can turn ugly once you start trying to sort out the details, as any disagreements can quickly spiral out of control.

How do-it-yourself divorces work

To start divorce proceedings in England and Wales, you simply need to download the relevant forms, fill them in and submit them to the court. You will also have to pay court fees, although those on a low income may be exempt. Starting financial proceedings is a separate application with another court fee.

What are the risks of a DIY divorce?

The problem with do-it-yourself divorces and attempting to settle financial matters yourself is that as soon as you and your spouse disagree on anything, it can be very difficult to resolve and can quickly cause the process to become acrimonious.

The most common issues tend to revolve around dividing your property and finances and agreeing the arrangements for any children you have. Other problems can include what to do with savings and investments, cherished possessions and other shared assed

There is also the danger that you will fail to take account of key details that simply do not occur to you, due to your lack of experience in these matters. This could leave you with on-going issues after the divorce, meaning you do not get the clean break you need to move on with your life.

Ultimately, a DIY divorce which includes financial matters that goes wrong can end up making the process much more adversarial than it needs to be, leave you in a worse position financially and cause lasting damage to your relationship with your former spouse, which can be especially problematic when you have children together.

The benefits of getting expert legal help with your divorce

There are a number of important reasons why it is almost always best to use a solicitor to handle your divorce and financial matters for you.

Some of the key benefits of hiring an expert divorce lawyer are:

  • Ensuring all the legal requirements are correctly taken care of.
  • Reducing the stress and upset in contentious divorces by allowing professionals to handle the details for you.
  •  Helping to prevent the divorce from becoming acrimonious.
  •  Making sure you get the best possible deal for you.
  •  Ensuring that any children you have are properly provided for.
  •  Reducing the risk of on-going problems after the divorce.

Ultimately, while a do-it -yourself divorce might seem like an appealing idea in theory, in our experience it is almost always highly advisable to use a professional divorce solicitor. DIY divorces often prove to be a false economy, leaving you with more problems to deal with than if you had simply used a solicitor in the first place.

Slade Legal is a well-established law firm operating out of 3 offices across Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley. Our highly experienced divorce solicitors can help you with all aspects of your divorce, including negotiating settlements outside of court wherever possible and representing you in court where this is the best or only option available.

To find out more, or to book a consultation with one of our expert divorce solicitors, please get in touch.

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