As a family lawyer at The Law House Solicitors Karen Weiner considers the issue of DIY divorces. This following question is one that is often asked, usually where the circumstances appear to be straightforward.
Q. My husband and I are getting divorced. It is all very amicable. It was a short marriage and we have no children or joint assets. Should we just go for a cheap online divorce?
A. If you go online there are a lot of companies offering Do It Yourself Divorce for a relatively low fixed fee. They essentially supply you with the documents and you fill in the relevant information. Some will deal with the court for you. What they don’t generally offer is any advice or if they do it is very basic. For some this is fine. But be careful – things can go wrong and when they do you will probably end up having to instruct a divorce solicitor to sort out the problem for you and this can end up costing you more than if you’d instructed the solicitor in the first place. For example, if there is insufficient in the statement of case for the court to agree an unreasonable behaviour petition. This would result in decree nisi being refused and you would have to amend the petition and effectively start over again! I have had clients that this has happened to. It is frustrating for them and causes increased cost and delay. One way around this is to instruct a divorce lawyer to check the documents for you and just advise you on the process rather than actually dealing with it for you. You can download the forms to complete from the court website at no cost, complete them and send to your chosen solicitor by email to check. This is a cheaper option and will ensure that the documents are correct before they are sent to the court.
If you do choose to go the do it yourself route it is still essential to seek advice from a family solicitor regarding your finances. Most solicitors will offer a fixed fee for a one off consultation. This will ensure you know what you need to do in order to protect yourself. Even if you have no joint assets you will want to ensure that no future claims can be made either during your lifetime or on death as a result of this marriage. That can only be done by a court order dismissing each of your claims against the other. There is no limitation period for financial claims and if you do not get the court to dismiss the claims, your ex husband may be able to come back for financial provision years later!
For specialist advice about your particular circumstances call Karen Weiner on 01923 521003 or email her on firstname.lastname@example.org