Five reasons why DIY divorce spells disaster
According to a recent report, divorce websites are reporting a sharp rise in the numbers of couples opting for “DIY divorces”.
The report highlights that couples are turning to on-line services because they can’t afford the cost of a divorce lawyer. While we may take the figures in the report with a pinch of salt (the survey was conducted by an on-line divorce business) we can’t discount this trend.
As we predicted, the demise of Legal Aid for most divorce and family matters is already having a significant impact on middle England – the most vulnerable members of our society who no longer qualify for public funding. No wonder then that many cash-strapped couples are going it alone.
An on-line DIY divorce costing around £50 may seem like a huge bargain. Why would you instruct a specialist lawyer when, with a few clicks of a mouse, you and your ex can divorce legally, and seemingly, cheaply?
Here are five reasons why DIY divorce could spell disaster:
- Hidden costs: That cheap DIY divorce does not include the £410 court fees you must pay. Also, if the divorce is not straight forward, then you will incur additional costs. There will be VAT on the charges excluding the court fee. It will not include the vital area of sorting out the financial issues.
- One party is more forceful: A DIY divorce is not suitable if there is an imbalance of power within a relationship. If one party is dominant, bullying, controlling or abusive – then the other party may agree to options which are not in their best interests simply to keep the peace.
- Finance: These are easy to overlook in a DIY divorce, and can leave men and women out of pocket in the long term. Finances encompass pensions, any business one party may own, property, maintenance, endowment policies, life cover trusts – along with other potential assets. Your ex may make a verbal promise in your DIY divorce that you would be looked after, with regards to assets and maintenance. This promise might not be honoured. Alternatively what happens if, two years after your DIY divorce, he or she is made redundant or is unable to work through illness and you have no court order for finances? That verbal promise won’t hold water in a court so both parties will need professional legal advice to unpick the financial mess. Unravelling finances in this situation is likely to prove more costly than taking expert advice before you divorce
- Guilt: Very often one party will be wracked with guilt and a DIY divorce may simply hand over everything, without any thought of how he or she will manage financially in years to come. Taking advice from a collaborative lawyer will help both parties to avoid costly mistakes.
- Financial security: The importance of taking the time to address the critical financial areas we outline in point 3 regarding property, assets, maintenance and pensions far outweigh the costly and emotional ramifications of not doing so. As an example, consider the ex-wife who divorced her husband in a ‘tick box’ DIY process – but is now is left with no pension when her former husband dies suddenly because she lost her entitlement when she received the decree absolute. A woman whose ex-husband dies within months of remarrying could see his pension entitlement go to the new wife while she is left with nothing. With the right legal advice before divorcing these ex-wives would be certain of some long term financial security.
In our experience the majority of separating and divorcing couples require advice on financial issues and very many need help to agree contact with their children. Far from being there to simply rack up fees, a good and experienced divorce and family lawyer will help you to consider the best options – which may include mediation – and guide you through the myriad of complexities.
To find out how we can help please call us on 0113 246 0055, comment below or drop us an e-mail.