What is a DIY divorce?

Individuals have always been able to act in person in respect of applying for and responding to a divorce. However the introduction of ‘no fault’ divorce has made it more attractive to act in person (DIY divorce) as it is, on the face of it at least, less complicated.

Have you noticed more couples opting for DIY divorce since the cost of living crisis?

The combination of the introduction of No Fault divorce and the cost of living crisis has I suspect caused an increase in more DIY divorce without obtaining legal advice alongside the divorce process.

How has the cost of living crisis changed divorce in general?

In financial times such as the present, finality for couples separating is sometimes difficult to achieve. It is now more likely that couples will remain living in the same house as they can’t afford to pay the outgoings on two properties, this can be extremely stressful for both parties and indeed any children of the family. It will mean that implementation of any agreement is very likely to be delayed because the family home isn’t selling. This means they are all stuck in the same house together even though they have agreed a sale and a division of sale proceeds.

Pros of DIY divorce?

We will often advise people to do the divorce side of matters on a DIY basis as it means that save legal fees. In the majority of cases it is straight forward and it is better to utilise funds for legal fees on the finances and children. We still get instructions to act on applications for divorce to ensure a smooth process, and on the basis that they are handing over the process to someone else rather than having to deal with it directly themselves. BUT, and it’s a big BUT, get legal advice prior to filing your divorce application with the court, or on receipt of a sealed divorce application so you know the consequences of the divorce proceeding particularly proceeding. The applicant can’t file for the final order in the divorce for around 26-30 weeks from issue of the divorce application, so there is time to instruct a solicitor and get advice on what else you need to do to effect a final agreement between you.

Is the rise in DIY divorces a problem? What are the cons involved with DIY divorce?

The main issue with DIY divorces is that people think that getting the final order (what was the decree absolute) in the divorce means that’s it. Many presume that a divorce means that the ex-spouse can’t make any financial claims against you, but this is not true. Only a court order detailing the finances can do that. This is why it is extremely important to get advice prior to filing the application so you are aware of the consequences of divorcing, of what it actually means to be divorced, and what you should be doing alongside the divorce to resolve any issues surrounding the children and financial arrangements. So the con with DIY divorce is that people are under the impression they don’t need legal advice when in reality that is the first thing they should be getting. Some couples may be getting DIY divorces when they don’t want to and could benefit from legal support, but don’t have the money to go through with it

What’s the effect of putting cost-saving over your need for legal support?

Every person going through a separation should, at the very least, have a one off appointment to get legal advice of what might become an issue during the course of separation. At Ellisons, our initial consultation covers all issues, including but not limited to divorce, mediation, issues surrounding children, separation agreements, issues surrounding finances both interim and final. Once you at least have a grasp of what is at stake, and what is important to consider on separation, it will mean you can then make better decisions moving forward and what should take priority financially.

Why do you think they’re on the rise?

The introduction of no fault divorce was extremely positive. It completely removed fault based divorce which historically often caused acrimony from the offset as someone needed to take the blame or you had to wait 2 years to even start proceedings. No Fault divorce means that couples can divorce without having to blame one person for the breakdown in the marriage and the introduction of divorce online has made it easier to navigate for those acting in person. However it will undoubtedly see a rise in those who encounter problems later in relation to financial issues and then have to seek legal advice to resolve it.

If you are ready to seek some legal advice in relation to your relationship breakdown, please contact a member of our Family team.