Financial & Legal News

DIY Divorce Can Spell Disaster and End Up Costly

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Divorce ranks as one of the most stressful periods in a person’s life, add to that significant financial worries – not just about how much money you are likely to receive post-settlement, but the cost of a divorce itself – and the whole process can be overwhelming.

The temptation to represent yourself and ‘go it alone’ is stronger than ever, but simply googling ‘how to divorce’ is not enough and DIY divorce, where much of the paperwork is completed without the help of a solicitor, can end up a costly moneysaver.

Pearson Solicitors run a free legal clinic two days per week at our Oldham and Ashton offices, and regularly see clients who have started their own divorce proceedings but then have encountered problems and consequently need the help of an experienced solicitor to remedy the situation.

So whilst the initial intention was to save money it often ends up with more costs being incurred because of the extra work that is then required in solving the issues.

What Common Mistakes Do People Make in DIY Divorce?

  • Whilst people can obtain the divorce forms from the court, or download them, and the forms are relatively easy to complete, people often don’t complete them properly which means they are returned by the court, causing delay and frustration. 
  • According to date from Resolution and the Courts and Tribunals Service, approximately 40 per cent of all applications for divorce petitions had to be returned for correction or because they were incomplete. It is believed that a large proportion of this figure come from DIY divorces.
  • The statement of case sets out the reasons for wanting a divorce - such as unreasonable behaviour, or adultery. The application will be returned if this section is incomplete or contains insufficient detail for the court to justify granting a divorce.
  • There are five ‘grounds for divorce’ – or reasons - that can be applied to divorce proceedings. If the grounds selected do not match the ‘statement of case’ then the form will be returned. Equally, if more than one ground is selected, the application cannot proceed.
  • One of the biggest issues is that a person acting without a solicitor may find it difficult to gauge what allegations of behaviour to include in the petition, and if the allegations are insufficient the petition will be rejected by a judge, again causing further delay and expense as the petition may need to be amended which entails a further court fee. 
  • Alternatively a person may exaggerate the allegations causing their spouse to react badly, which can then inflame what should have been a civil end to the marriage and cause problems in the related issues of child care and finances. 

"A good solicitors will be able to advise a client what contact is good enough to get the divorce through, and to see the bigger picture regarding the children and finances, and guide the client accordingly," said family Partner, Daniel Prince.

“Further, if a person issues their own divorce papers they may never actually see a solicitor and may therefore not know what rightful claims they could and should be making. For example, I recently saw a lady at our legal clinic who hadn’t realised that she could make a claim against her husband’s substantial pension pot, particularly as he had told her that she couldn’t! I soon put her right in that respect and it is likely that she will now proceed with the claim, which will change her future life,” he added.

For advice on getting your divorce right contact



Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

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