The Pitfalls of a DIY Divorce
You’ve decided to divorce your spouse. You know it’s the end, you know there’s no way back; so, what next? Those unfamiliar with the process will naturally find it daunting and confusing. You may have even heard from well-meaning friends or optimistic colleagues that a do-it-yourself divorce might save you some money, and minimise stress.
With the best of intentions and a healthy dose of patience from both parties, DIY divorces require no lawyers, no trials, and all communication is carried out between the couple involved. Sounds simple, right? On the surface, opting for the DIY approach may seem like an attractive option. And for some couples, it can work.
But there are conditions. Firstly, your case must be considered as an ‘uncontested divorce’, meaning that both parties agree to the termination of the marriage and the reason for it. Secondly, you must have resolved all the issues surrounding the arrangements for children, the financial support of those children, and how any property, assets, or debt should be divided. Thirdly, and arguably most importantly, you must have both agreed to willingly participate in the process, have a full understanding of each other’s financial positions, not feel pressurised by the other person and be able to work together.
So, although DIY divorces may seem appealing in theory, make no mistake; there are pitfalls, and unfortunately, they are common. For example:
- A Decree Absolute (final Decree of Divorce) does not resolve financial issues between you. For this to be achieved you must have a Clean Break by way of a financial Consent Order.
- One pitfall of the DIY divorce is the likelihood that key details will be overlooked or forgotten in what can be a long, confusing process. If you’re not an expert in divorce procedures, it’s easy to miss things that may have simply not occurred to you. Failing to tie up loose ends and leaving some matters outstanding, however small, means that you may not get the closure you were hoping for.
- You may end up worse off in the long term - saving money on a divorce is undoubtedly an attractive option, but in the event that the financial matters don’t go as smoothly as you’d anticipated, there’s a very real chance that you could end up worse off in the long run. Arguments over money and the animosity caused can have a hugely detrimental effect on your future relationship with your ex-spouse – not ideal, especially if you share children and need to keep communication channels open for the future.
- You don’t agree on absolutely everything - of course, DIY divorces CAN run smoothly if both parties agree on absolutely everything throughout the process. But in reality, the likelihood of this often slim. Dividing property, finances, and debt, isn’t easy. Your marriage has broken down, your future looks very different to the one you imagined when made your marriage vows, and you’re simply not reading from the same page anymore.
Then there are savings, investments, shared assets, and even seemingly minor considerations such as treasured possessions and family pets to think of. And what happens if you share children? Can you agree on the final details of custody arrangements, child care, and financial support?
The truth is, DIY divorces, more often than not, prove to be a false economy, leaving you with more problems to deal with than if you had simply consulted a solicitor from the outset. There are many advantages to getting legal help to ensure that divorce proceedings move forward as smoothly as possible.
If you are going through a divorce or are considering a separation and need some advice, please do contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.
By Vines Legal on 24 Mar 2020, 15:36 PM