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The Pitfalls of Online DIY Divorce

In the past when people tried to complete their own divorces, it was not uncommon for mistakes to be made that were difficult to rectify. This could lead to considerable delays, that in some cases meant years would pass without the divorce being completed.

Owing to this, in recent years the process for DIY divorce has been made simpler through the introduction of the online divorce system, which is easier to navigate with more guidance available. A further improvement is that it has led to divorces progressing more swiftly than when everything was paper based, and with the Courts now processing divorces online, even if you make a mistake filling in the form, it may not cause such lengthy delays.

Yet, while online DIY divorce is now more straightforward than before, there are pitfalls involved that could be avoided by seeking professional legal advice. The most important advantages of talking to a family solicitor include the following:

  • While the grounds for divorce may seem clear, there is the potential for errors which are less likely if prepared by a solicitor. For Example:
    • if adultery is relied on as the grounds for divorce, it has to be either admitted or proven (much more difficult than it sounds).
    • if the grounds of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ are drafted too mildly, it may be refused by the Court.
    • if the grounds are two years separation, it is important to confirm with your ex that they will consent to a divorce on this basis. Periods of cohabitation can further complicate things.
  • When people issue divorce proceedings themselves, they may unwittingly aggravate matters with their ex, causing negotiations about finances and children to become more difficult. For example:
    • they may issue divorce proceedings without sending a draft application to the other party first.
    • they may draft particulars of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ in an unnecessarily strong and emotive manner.
    • they may claim costs without agreeing these with their ex beforehand.
  • A solicitor can advise on what a fair financial settlement would involve.
  • A solicitor can advise on how to agree the living arrangements of your children.
  • Seeking the help of a family solicitor can remove some of the stress of divorce, as it eliminates the worry of you making an important mistake while trying to complete a DIY divorce.
  • Many solicitors offer reasonable priced fixed fees for assisting with the administrative process of divorce. At Tisshaws we offer a fixed fee divorce for £450 +VAT. These costs or a share of the costs can often be sought from the other party.

Clearly, the main risks in online DIY divorce are delays caused by mistakes and trying to resolve financial and children matters yourself, without the knowledge of what a fair settlement involves. This can be a highly risky strategy that can lead to serious problems in the future.

Where the pressure of cost is paramount, people will continue to seek an online DIY divorce to save money. In this case, we would recommend that at the very least, an initial consultation with a family solicitor is made to discuss the preferred grounds for divorce, the best way to approach it and any pitfalls to be aware of regarding financial and children matters. At Tisshaws we offer an initial one-hour consultation for £50 (incl. VAT).

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