The Pitfalls of DIY Divorce

With the impact of the recent cost of living crisis, it is understandable that many divorcing couples are turning to online DIY divorce packages. Anything that promises to save both time and money makes this option appealing. Yet, there are many pitfalls for those taking this option, so we’ve highlighted potential issues that can arise.

Does a DIY divorce really save time and money?

There is no straightforward answer to this. Without employing the help of a family law solicitor, the initial cost of a DIY divorce may seem attractive. Couples simply pay for an online package, plus the cost of the court fees to legitimise the divorce, these are currently £593.

However, if any of the documents are improperly filed it will offset any time advantages that DIY divorce is perceived to offer. More importantly, a DIY divorce can put your future finances at risk, as well as the wellbeing of any children.

Let’s look more closely at the two biggest financial risks.

1. The risk of an unfair settlement

Divorce is a complex process and without the professional support of a family law solicitor there is a real danger that one half of a couple will miss out on what they are legally entitled to. Without the correct legal knowledge, research and proper evaluation of any settlement, the risks are great.

These include:

  • Not understanding that all cases are unique and that individual circumstances can mean assets can be divided in any number of ways, so it is not always necessary to sell the family home.
  • Not appreciating that the cash transfer value of a pension is no indication of its worth – without the services of a pensions expert one half of the couple could be losing out on valuable financial support later in life.
  • The scope for one half of a couple to hide or forget certain financial assets when agreeing a settlement – in contrast, solicitors require a ‘full and frank disclosure’ of both parties’ assets, income, and liabilities.
  • Not understanding the impact of the settlement on tax liabilities in the future.

2. The mistaken belief that a Final Divorce Order severs all financial ties

This is possibly the biggest risk because whatever settlement you reach between you both, without a Financial Consent Order, either one of you can make a claim against the other at a later date.

Even if during the marriage you had no shared assets, if one of you wins the lottery 15 years later, or goes bankrupt, your ex-partner can legally come after you for income, property, and pensions in the future.

Similarly, without a Financial Consent Order, if one partner stops paying spousal maintenance, there is no way to enforce this using the law and if one of you receives an inheritance, your ex-partner can make a claim for a share.

So, while a Final Divorce Order (formerly known as a Decree Absolute) makes your divorce legal, meaning you are free to remarry, it does not sever your financial ties with an ex-partner. Many DIY divorcers do not appreciate this crucial factor.

The benefits of using a solicitor to divorce

Using a good family lawyer offers many benefits, including:

  • Expert legal knowledge to ensure any settlement is fair
  • Protecting both parties against future financial claims
  • The peace of mind and feeling of support that comes knowing you have an expert on your side during what is usually an emotionally challenging time

Why using a solicitor is cost-effective

When deciding how to divorce, there is simply too much at stake not to use professional help. Not only will you benefit from a solicitor’s legal expertise, experience, and judgement, but most solicitors will now do everything they can to help you resolve issues as amicably, quickly and cheaply as possible, by avoiding the courtrooms.

At Tisshaws, we use negotiation, mediation, and collaborative round-table meetings to help couples reach a settlement which is fair to them both. We then ensure the divorce and settlement is recorded in law. All our team are members of Resolution, an organisation committed to a non-confrontational and constructive approach to resolving the issues that arise from family breakdown.


If you are thinking about divorce or separation, we offer a no obligation 60-minute initial consultation for you to understand the impact on your specific family circumstances for £50 (incl. VAT). To arrange a meeting please call us on 01444 472700, email or complete the form below.

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