The pros and cons of a DIY divorce

The concept of divorce can be daunting in itself. It is some comfort therefore that, following the introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorce came in to effect in April 2022, the process is a lot more user-friendly and accessible to many more who wish to deal with matters themselves. The application can either be made by one party to the marriage or by way of a joint application, rather than led by a divorce lawyer. There are risks however, and we would advise you to obtain advice prior to commencing divorce proceedings yourself so that you are aware of any risks that are relevant in your particular case.

Learn more about the ‘no-fault’ divorce.

Topics to be answered in this article

What is a DIY divorce or dissolution?

The divorce process has moved online using the Court portal. It is a process to formally end a marriage or civil partnership. It does not, however, deal with matters regarding finances or any issues in respect of arrangements concerning any child or children of the marriage. 

The pros of a DIY divorce

There are many benefits to a ‘DIY divorce’, such as reducing costs, and perhaps reducing the stress in some circumstances by enabling the applicant/joint applicant to take control over this particular process.

  1. Reducing cost: By completing all the forms and necessary checks yourself, you won’t need to hire a divorce solicitor which will keep the costs down.
  2. Reducing stress: You are able to progress the divorce process yourself. This deals with the breakdown of the marriage. You do not have to argue in respect of financial settlements that can make the process more stressful. You should, however, ensure that you consider this alongside the divorce and get advice early on to understand the implications of not doing so. 
  3. Going at your own pace: A DIY divorce allows you to go through the process at your own pace, subject to the imposed Court timeframe set out below.

The cons of a DIY divorce

Whilst a DIY divorce is easy enough to complete, there are always risks by doing it yourself.

  1. Risk of mistakes: Whilst the process is easy to follow, things like filling in the forms incorrectly, not agreeing on certain aspects of the divorce or just missing something altogether, can incur increased costs down the line. Mistakes can be difficult to undo and may cause delay in your overall application. 
  2. Simple Situations: DIY divorce may provide a solution in simpler cases, but where there are more complex issues and assets involved, then legal expertise is invaluable in safeguarding your interests and ensuring you have the best possible outcome. 
  3. Financial side not sorted: A common misconception is that your finances are also dealt with, whether by agreement or otherwise, such as a sale of the family home and agreement to divide the equity. This is not the case. Following divorce, unless and until you have dealt with your finances specifically, within a Consent Order, any claim that either party has against the other, arising from the marriage, remains open. It is always preferable to have appropriate advice from a specialist solicitor in order to know how the process will effect you and what impact it may have on your financial settlement. Early advice is key!

How long does a DIY divorce take?

Once the application is drafted and issued by the Court, the other party has 14 days to respond. Provided that is done, there is then a ‘cooling off’ period of 20 weeks before you, as the applicant, are able to apply for the Conditional Order. This is the first stage of the divorce. Six week after that date, you are able to apply for the Final Order which has the effect of dissolving the marriage. The process typically takes 6 and a half to 7 months proving the application has been acknowledged by the other party.

Where is a DIY divorce most suitable?

In cases where there are no issues regarding children or finances and providing the finances are known and straight-forward, and where parties remain on good terms, a DIY divorce is suitable. Advice should always be sought initially so that  you understand the complexities that can arise in respect of finances, such as pensions, properties and other assets that need to be considered.

What is the process for a DIY divorce

  1. You will need the official copy of your marriage certificate to draft the application in addition to the Court fee of £593. You can get help with fees in cases where you are eligible.
  2. Once the application has been submitted online, it will be issued and the other party notified;
  3. The other party has 14 days to acknowledge the proceedings;
  4. There is a 20 week cooling off period, after which time, you can apply for the Conditional Order;
  5. 6 weeks after the pronouncement of the Conditional Order, you can apply for the Final Order.
  6. Please find the link to the government portal:  https://www.gov.uk/divorce/file-for-divorce

How can Goughs help?

Legal help is available and important even for a DIY divorce. We can also discuss the pros and cons of a DIY divorce in more detail, based on your specific circumstances. To find out more please contact our Family Team at Goughs. We offer an initial free consultation and can provide advice in all family matters.

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Author Bio

Rhianna Cole

I have over 14 years’ experience as a Family Law specialist. I greatly enjoy the different aspects and challenges of this area of law. I take the time to get to know my clients in order to understand their objectives and desired outcomes. Where appropriate and possible I promote a conciliatory approach to issues, focusing on the needs of the client and always putting the wellbeing of any children involved first. My advice is clear, pragmatic, honest and outcome-focused in order to find the right solution for each individual. Experience has taught me the importance of building trusting relationships with my clients so I can effectively guide them through what are bound to be emotional and challenging times in their lives with compassion.

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