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A “Do-it-yourself Divorce” – Is it worth it?

Statistics released on 5 December 2016 by the Office of National Statistics revealed that, overall, the amount of divorces have been decreasing (demonstrated by a 3.1% decrease in 2014 compared with 2013, and a decline of 27% from a peak in divorces in 2003). Great news!

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However, despite the statistics, it is still an unfortunate reality that some marriages will come to an end, resulting in divorce. Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful life events an individual can experience, and will have an emotional, financial and legal impact on a person’s life.

There are costs associated with getting divorced too. The current fee to issue your divorce petition with the court is £550 (although you may be entitled to a partial/full fee remission, dependent on your income), and there are further court costs associated with resolving the related financial matters. It does not come as a surprise, therefore, that some individuals consider embarking on a “Do-it-yourself Divorce”, rather than instructing solicitors to act on their behalf. lawyers can see the thinking behind this decision – why would you want to pay a solicitor to do something that you may be able to do yourself, given the abundance of information available online? We have even discovered DIY Divorce Kits both in high street stores and on the Internet, costing between £19.99 – £40!

However, a “Do-it-yourself Divorce” may present unforeseen pitfalls. The following points are worth your consideration:

  • You will already be going through an emotional and stressful experience. By instructing a solicitor, you gain the advice and support of an expert acting purely in your best interests, and providing you with clear and realistic guidance which, in turn, should reduce stress for you.

  • Solicitors are not emotionally invested in your divorce or financial proceedings. We remain objective and sensible, offering the benefit of years of training and experience, without our judgement being clouded by emotion.

  • Divorce and related matters are technical legal proceedings. There are a number of rules and protocols that must be adhered to, including specific timings in relation to certain stages of your divorce or financial settlement. Solicitors will be well versed in these rules and protocols, thus avoiding any unnecessary delays or expense that otherwise may be incurred should you proceed without a solicitor. Without a solicitor, you may inadvertently be landed with an order for costs or fail to seek full costs and financial claims. Such mistakes can be expensive to rectify.

  • You can only rely on 1 of 5 facts to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. Choosing the most appropriate fact, and ensuring that sufficient particulars are provided to prove that fact, is not always straightforward. We can advise on the best approach to ensure that your divorce is able to go through without problems.

  • A solicitor acting on your behalf can advise on whether alternative, non-court based ways to resolve financial and children matters are suitable. There are options such as mediation and collaborative law to support such situations and these processes keep costs down. Unfortunately, it is not always the case that matters remain amicable and a solicitor acting on your behalf means that you do not have to communicate directly with your ex-partner. We can ensure that you have a process suited to your needs, thus reducing the acrimony and stress experienced during the resolution of issues.

  • We are able to advise on financial claims within your divorce. For example, you may be entitled to a share of your ex-partner’s capital or pension, or even entitled to ongoing financial support (maintenance). A solicitor acting on your behalf will be able to advise how best to obtain a favourable outcome in relation to your finances, and protect you from what may be an inadequate of unfair outcome.

  • It is important that individuals consider reaching a financial settlement to deal with how the matrimonial assets are to be split. Even if you have agreed a financial settlement with your ex-partner, it would be difficult to guarantee that your ex-partner will comply with the agreement without a court order that is carefully drafted to reflect your intentions. Furthermore, failure to formalise a financial settlement by way of a court order may mean that your ex-partner is able to return at a future date and make a claim on your finances, even several years after Decree Absolute has been pronounced.

  • The formal court order reflecting your financial settlement is called a consent order. It is a complicated (and non-standard) legal document that should be drafted by a family law expert, and cannot be purchased off the shelf.

  • In summary, completing your divorce without the assistance of a solicitor means that you will miss out on receiving the expertise and knowledge that is essential when dealing with something as crucial as the breakdown of your marriage.

Lanyon Bowdler has a strong and dedicated team of family law experts with over 100 years of combined experience in family law. Most of our lawyers are members of Resolution and on the Law Society Family Law Panel. Two of our lawyers are collaboratively trained.

We offer affordable pricing options, with the choice of either hourly charges, fixed fees or a Pay As You Go arrangement. We will regularly update you in relation to the costs of your case, and are able to offer staged payment plans, should this be necessary. We will progress your divorce proceedings at the best pace possible whilst negotiating a fair financial settlement on your behalf. We will do the hard work for you, and will be with you every step of the way.

Fortunately, divorce is the least likely outcome for a marriage with the most recent statistics suggesting that 58% of marriages will not end in divorce. However, if you sit within the remaining 42%, the family solicitors at Lanyon Bowdler are here to support you. We have family law experts in each of our offices in Bromyard, Hereford, Ludlow, Oswestry, Shrewsbury and Telford, all of whom are ready to listen and provide clear advice in relation to your specific circumstances. We are here to achieve the best possible outcome for you whilst helping to make your divorce as stress free as possible.


*All data retrieved from the Office of National Statistics - https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/divorce/bulletins/divorcesinenglandandwales/2014

 

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