The Risks Of A DIY Divorce


In today’s fast-moving, digital environment, all of us are accustomed to getting our needs granted quickly and cheaply.  We shop online at Amazon for knockdown prices, have dinner delivered in 30 minutes using Deliveroo and, if we want to meet someone special, we can rapidly swipe through online profiles to find the perfect match.

However, the best divorce lawyers in London are growing increasingly concerned with this same approach being taken for divorce, an event that can affect a person’s financial and personal situation for years into the future.

Google “quick, cheap divorce” and up will come a plethora of websites offering cheap and fast divorces for as little as £37.  Although this might sound far more attractive than investing considerably more money in instructing an experienced family law solicitor in London, be under no illusions that there are serious risks involved with taking such an approach.

How do DIY divorces work?

No matter how you choose to get divorced, you will have to pay £550 to file a divorce petition and receive a decree absolute.  If you wish to file a financial consent order, this will cost you another £50.  Only those who are in considerable financial hardship can apply to be exempted from these fees.

Why is DIY divorce dangerous?

DIY divorce can be risky on a practical level.  For example, in 2016, Andrew McLeod-Baikie, a 52-year-old father of four children, paid £600 to get an online divorce from his wife Susan in 2011.  Mr McLeod-Baikie, however, did not obtain the decree absolute, which makes a divorce official, before marrying again.  His first wife alerted the authorities when she saw pictures of his second wedding on Facebook.  Mr McLeod-Baikie pleaded guilty to bigamy.  Magistrates fined him £400 and ordered him to pay £400 in costs, according to a report of the hearing in the Daily Telegraph.

But far more concerning to the best divorce solicitors in London is the long-term consequences of agreeing to a financial settlement and/or arrangements for your children without seeking professional advice.

Getting divorced and marital separation rank as number two and three in the hierarchy of life’s most stressful events (death of a spouse is number one).  This means that those in the throes of divorce are in a highly emotional state and are unlikely to be thinking as clearly as they would under normal circumstances. 

For example, say the marriage has ended because you had an affair and your spouse is divorcing you for adultery.  Out of guilt, you may feel you have to walk away from the marriage with little or no share of the matrimonial property (especially if children are involved).  This may seem noble; however, in two years’ time, when you are struggling financially, you may rue the day you did not seek legal advice.

An experienced family law solicitor in London can assist you with making the right decisions for your future.  Because they do not carry any emotional baggage, they can assist you with making decisions surrounding the financial settlement in a pragmatic matter, ensuring your long-term interests are protected. 

A divorce solicitor also offers the best chance of a financially weaker spouse getting a fair divorce settlement.  Some spouses find themselves subject to coercion or pressure to forfeit certain assets.  A family law solicitor will advise you as to your entitlement regarding matrimonial property and assets and support you in round-table negotiation and/or mediation, so you achieve a settlement that is fair and reasonable.

It is also preferable to talk through arrangements for children with a divorce lawyer, even if you have managed to agree between yourselves who your children should primarily reside with and when the other parent sees them.  A solicitor will formalise your arrangements for your children so that you and your spouse have a parenting plan you can refer to should circumstances change (as they surely will over time).

In summary

Although it is more expensive to see an experienced divorce solicitor in London in order to receive the best advice following the breakdown of your marriage, it really is a case of money well spent.  Your solicitor will always be on your side, providing you with practical advice which is delivered in the best interests of you and your children.

family law in England and Wales is designed to support couples in working out the financial settlement and arrangements for children between themselves.  Our family law solicitors belong to Resolution and follow its Code of Practice which encourages all parties to a divorce to reach agreements in a non-confrontational manner.  The best divorce lawyers will work hard to keep their client out of court, instead supporting them in resolving disputes through negotiation and mediation.  Couples who use DIY divorce options often end up in court at a later date, because they have not learned to communicate in a non-confrontational manner when it comes to resolving disputes.

Although DIY divorces may save you money, they can be very expensive in the long-run.

OTS Solicitors is a respected immigration and family law firm in London and is highly recommended by the Legal 500.  By making an appointment with one of our Family Solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.  Please contact us on 0207 936 9960.


Relevant People: