image of two people sitting at a table writing notesDIY Divorces- Are They Ever A Good Idea?

image of two people sitting at a table writing notesBeing an ex -family law solicitor, my initial response is no no and no!

Always get a solicitor to do the legal stuff for you. You need to get it done properly. The money spent on getting it right first time far outweighs the unnecessary costs correcting any mistakes or worse having to live with a bad decision which could have been avoided had you had the benefit of legal advice beforehand.

But, there are rare, and I mean rare, circumstances when “Do It Yourself” divorces may be a possibility. ALL of the following criteria need to be met to satisfy me that a DIY divorce is at all appropriate…

1. Both parties of the couple are young(below 30ish)

2. It is a short term marriage(less than 5 years)

3.There are NO children(and the wife is not pregnant)

4. There are few assets to be divided up between the couple(finances are straightforward)

5. The couple are fairly amicable about the separation and how the assets are to be divided AND how the divorce is to be conducted.

Even if you satisfy all of the above, you will still need to navigate through the legal process. The court websites are helpful on how to complete the necessary forms BUT legal jargon and processes can still be a minefield for the family law novice. It doesn’t take solicitors approximately 6 years to qualify for nothing!

If you do not satisfy all of the above criteria, please don’t think about attempting to conduct your own divorce case. It may seem like a good cost saving exercise at the beginning but believe me things can quickly become very complicated and expensive if things are not done properly.

My recommendation is to agree as much as you can between you and your spouse then go to see a solicitor for them to formalise things for you. It is also important for both you and your spouse to benefit from independent legal advice on whatever agreement you have reached. You need to be able to live with the decisions and agreements you make, long after the divorce case is over. Make strong informed and well considered decisions.

Believe it or not, it can be much quicker and cheaper to instruct a solicitor to represent you than to dabble in the law on your own. Protect your legal position and make sure things are done properly. Marriage breakdown is stressful enough without trying to run your own divorce case.

Even as a divorce consultant, who aims to lessen the stress and cost for people going through divorce and separation, I still believe its better to put things in the capable hands of a specialist family law solicitor.

For help on how to find the right solicitor, see my blog How To Choose Your Divorce Solicitor.

 

If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you will find lots more in my ebook “Tips for Coping with Divorce” which you can download here: free ebook.

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2 comments

  1. I’m not a solicitor, but I am a family law attorney in California and I agree 🙂

    As leaders in the field of Consensual Dispute Resolution, we do a lot of legal services unbundling and consulting and we find that the cost to review papers and correct errors is often greater than the cost of doing it right from the beginning. In California, parties must comply with strict rules regarding financial disclosure and any deficiency in that regard can cause problems years later. That is only one example of the many pitfalls faced by do-it-yourselfers.

    We do encourage parties to try and reach agreement on as many issues as possible before they meet with an attorney so that they can minimize their fees, but the terms should always be reviewed by independent counsel prior to execution.

    Thanks for a great blog!

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