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The hazards of a DIY divorce

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You wouldn’t pull out your own teeth, so why would you try to arrange your own divorce? Here’s why you need a solicitor to help you.

It’s tempting, sure. You want a divorce however, rather than pay for a solicitor to guide you through the process, you make use of the numerous ‘DIY divorce’ services you find online. All you have to do is complete some forms and enter your credit card details. What’s the worst that could happen?

Well, the answer is quite a lot. Even for couples who are separating amicably, with little in the way of assets to divide and no children, there can be problems if you don’t follow the process correctly. For spouses who own property, have intertwined financial affairs or children, mistakes can lead to disaster. That’s why it’s essential to bring a solicitor on board from the very start of the divorce process.

Solicitors are highly-trained experts

Some things are best left to the experts. You wouldn’t pull your own teeth out to save money on dentist fees. If you know nothing about cars, you go to a mechanic when your engine starts making a strange noise. Getting a divorce is something that impacts the rest of your life, so you need to make sure you do it correctly.

Like a dentist or a mechanic, a family law solicitor will have invested several years of study to get to their level. They take the time to stay up-to-date with legislation. They are likely to have years of experience achieving desirable settlements for their clients. They know the divorce process inside and out, and they know how to get the right settlement for you.

Parts of the process

Divorce is a legal process, with some complex aspects and terminology. It’s more than simply completing a few forms and certainly not something you should try yourself.

For example, currently, in order to achieve a divorce, the person applying for a divorce has to satisfy the court that the marriage has broken down and cannot be rescued, while the other party may be required accept their responsibility for the marriage ending. There are five alternative ‘facts’ the petitioner can cite:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Separation for two years (if both sides agree)
  • Separation for five years (if only one side agrees)

Adultery and unreasonable behaviour are the most commonly cited reasons for divorce, but they can be difficult to establish, especially if the other party won’t accept responsibility. An unreasonable behaviour petition must be specific but the other party may object to the allegations and defend the petition. With adultery, the other party may deny it. When this happens, it creates a logjam, which can lead to your petition being rejected by the court.

Alternatively, a solicitor will be able to help you establish the facts and get your divorce through the court without delay.

Financial matters

DIY divorce sites can help you get your Decree Absolute to end your marriage however, if you don’t obtain a legally binding agreement to divide your finances, you leave yourself open to problems in the future. DIY divorce services do not address this crucial side of divorce.

If you own a house, have a pension or money in the bank, it is essential that you come to an agreement at the time of divorce and make sure it is legally watertight. Failing to do so leaves you exposed to a claim from your ex-spouse many, many years later.  To remarry without first receiving advice regarding the future, may have serious implications on your entitlement to spousal maintenance.

Solicitors are experienced in negotiating legal settlements as part of the divorce process. They will achieve a settlement that ensures you get what you are entitled to and doesn’t sell you short. They will also ensure that everything is legally binding, so you can get on with your life without worrying about what may lay ahead.

A friend in your corner

If you are going through divorce, please think very carefully about the temptations of DIY divorce services, no matter how much money you think you’ll save. At Goodsells Family Law, we regularly receive instructions from people who have attempted to complete the divorce process themselves only to encounter the court rejecting their petition for a variety of reasons. They approach Goodsells Family Law to ask us to rescue the situation, invariably wishing they had been with us from the beginning.

If nothing else, a solicitor is a friendly face who will fight your corner during a very difficult time in your life. They will guide and support you through this often challenging and emotional process, explaining the complex legal terminology as you go. Importantly, they will ensure that you do not lose out in the financial settlement.

For further details please call Donna Goodsell at Goodsells Family Law on 020 7622 22221 or email

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