The concept of a “Do-It-Yourself” Divorce has become popular since the introduction of no-fault divorce in 2022, with many couples seeking to streamline their divorce process and cut costs.
With that said, separating couples have been able to apply online for a divorce without solicitors having to oversee the process since 2018. The new no-fault divorce process was designed to help separating couples complete divorce applications in a much easier and non-contentious way.
What parties sometimes do not comprehend is that when commencing divorce proceedings, more often than not issues relating to child arrangements and how assets and liabilities are to be divided may become overlooked. This can lead to an inequitable distribution of assets, or not protecting yourself by way of a Clean Break Order.
It may feel tempting to tackle divorce without legal representation, especially given the idea of saving some money, because for most it is the question of cost that determines why legal advice is not sought. In reality, there is a real risk of losing thousands of pounds later on, particularly when it comes to unresolved financial matters.
Lack of legal guidance
No matter how amicable your separation, proceeding with a divorce without obtaining legal advice is dangerous. Separation may start amicably but the likelihood that you will agree 100% on every decision is highly unlikely. Instructing a divorce solicitor who will look out for your best interests, specifically when dealing with high-net-worth divorce, is often a much safer way forward.
It may not always be clear when an unfair deal is on the table, divorce solicitors are familiar with tactics that spouses may try to use and are there to guide you; it is crucial to have the support and expertise of a divorce solicitor to ensure you get what is yours before it is too late.
It is unlikely that a lay person will know the detail of the law in the way a divorce solicitor will. This could lead you into entering agreements based on out-of-date law or based on false information, which could in turn cost you more than instructing solicitors in the first place.
Divorce is often associated with having to go to Court, which can put separating parties off from instructing solicitors. There are alternative dispute resolution methods to enable parties to conclude matters without having to go to Court, such as Mediation and Arbitration. Court is often considered as a last case resort for most divorce solicitors and we always advocate resolving matters away from Court where possible. Though this may not be an option when you cannot agree and require assistance to come to an agreement.
Risk of Financial Loss
There is a risk of suffering financial loss without a thorough understanding of your financial situation and a formal financial settlement. This is often seen through unfair division of assets or by unintentionally taking on more debt than anticipated. It is vital when dealing with financial settlements that ties are severed during the divorce, to avoid any possibility of future assets or earnings being claimed by your ex-spouse. In particular, what is often not considered by unrepresented parties is what should happen with pension assets on divorce and if pensions are not dealt with properly and fairly, a person could find themselves at a real disadvantage come retirement.
When it comes to dividing assets on divorce, it is important to consider property, income and pensions. Dividing up family assets fairly involves negotiations; this is another reason to instruct a divorce solicitor. Divorce solicitors negotiate settlements day in, day out; we know all the areas to consider. Such as:
- Have all assets been fully and frankly disclosed
- Are you being denied a share in the home, properties, business or pension assets
- Is your spouse trying to burden you unfairly with their debts or other financial liabilities
Without instructing a divorce solicitor you may not get what you are entitled to receive. There is much more to divorce than applying online.
Attempting to get divorced without a solicitor could leave a legal loophole. One of the most notable dangers of proceeding with a divorce without representation is the potential permanence of the decisions you make. Once a divorce is finalised, reversing or modifying the financial arrangements can be complex and very costly. It is vital to understand the decisions made during divorce proceedings can often have long-term implications.
If a financial settlement is not carried out correctly, your former partner could apply for more money years later, if you suddenly gain a significant sum of money. An experienced solicitor will ensure that your divorce will result in a fair, full and final settlement, so that you can draw a line under it all and move on.
Conclusion of DIY Divorce
While it might seem appealing, it is essential to take a step back and consider the potential consequences. It is helpful to have an initial meeting with a solicitor to understand your rights and the full implications of any agreement. This does not necessarily mean you need to instruct a divorce solicitor for full representation, but even a short consultation can provide valuable insights to avoid unfair settlements.
Should you require further information, or have a query in relation to your current DIY divorce, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Author: Chloe Dixon