It has been highlighted in the media recently that almost half of couples are opting to split via an online process.

The term ‘DIY Divorce’ refers to a divorce or dissolution that takes place with little or no legal assistance, often online. This means that the various stages of your divorce are handled by you personally, rather than by a solicitor.

Below we outline the pros and cons of a DIY online divorce so that you can make an informed decision that best suits your situation.

Pros

  1. A DIY Divorce can be beneficial for people with really straightforward circumstances.  If you are in a marriage with no children, money or assets then you may not benefit as much from hiring a solicitor.
  2. Not having your divorce managed by a solicitor means that you’re able to decide when to move forwards based on what feels right for you, rather than what a legal professional believes to be best.

Cons

  1. A DIY divorce looks cheap and easy but remember in many cases it only covers the paperwork. There are additional fees to be paid including the standard court issue fee of £550 which applies whether you instruct a solicitor or not. A divorce can be delayed if the paperwork is not in order or has not been completed correctly. Having a solicitor on side gives you peace of mind that it’s all dealt with correctly on your behalf.
  2. A digital divorce doesn’t include the costs of sorting out financial and childcare arrangements. These issues can be the most complex that arise in divorce proceedings. All couples will need a financial order which documents how assets will be split. Even if you have no assets, a financial order is needed to make sure your spouse cannot try to claim any money from you in the future.  You may also require a child arrangements order. It’s quite usual for a divorce not to be concluded until the financial agreements have been finalised into a formal document or court order signed by a judge because divorce can affect pension claims and inheritance rights.  It is important that the financial agreement is drawn up by a solicitor to ensure it includes everything necessary and provides the protection needed.
  3. Even if your marriage or civil partnership ends on good terms, it can be difficult to ensure that you get a fair settlement. Having an expert in your corner looking at protecting your position is often the difference between leaving a marriage with nothing or leaving it with a fair settlement that truly reflects your entitlement.
  4. Having someone there to simplify the process and explain everything so that you’re totally sure of what you’re signing, ensures that the process is significantly less of a burden on you that it would be otherwise.
  5. Formally ending your marriage can be a difficult, emotionally wearing and deeply personal process. Professionals are used to managing your emotions, which means that they are able to guide you through the decision-making process so that you feel confident that each decision is made rationally.
  6. Ongoing advice and face-to face meetings are key to ensure any complex matters can be thoroughly explored and resolved.  If issues aren’t identified at the outset, it’s possible they could be overlooked and this could have a detrimental effect on the overall outcome.
  7. Even if you consider your situation to be straightforward, many cases rely on the judgement and professional skill of a solicitor who knows exactly how the process works, guiding you through every stage.

It is also important to consider is how your position changes when you get divorced and how this change needs to be managed. When you get divorced a number of rights afforded to you as a married person cease to apply. For example, when married, if your husband or wife dies you are protected by the laws of intestacy if they do not have a Will. Once you are divorced you are no longer a spouse and so the rules change if your former spouse dies and you have not resolved the outstanding financial matters between you. Also, on divorce, any provision that would benefit a spouse in a Will would fail and you would not be protected in the same way by the laws of intestacy, as you are no longer married. In addition, the rights that once may have existed under your spouse’s pension provision may also change. It is vital that these things are considered and, if necessary, addressed before your divorce is finalised.

It is understandable why avoiding solicitors and their fees can be an attractive proposition, but what you cannot get from acting in person, nor from looking online, is the specialist, bespoke legal advice guiding you on how being divorced will affect you, what your legal rights are and what else needs to happen in light of your divorce proceedings to provide for and protect you into the future.

For further guidance please contact our specialist family law team on 01792 468684 or email enquiries@pgmsolicitors.co.uk.

Share This