Is DIY Divorce a good idea?
Heidi Fleming

Is DIY Divorce a good idea?



As we look back over the past year, I think about all the new clients who have instructed me where they have attempted to deal with divorce or financial matters themselves initially. I have had to unpick some absolute nightmares which could have been avoided if early advice had been sought.

I receive instructions at all stages of the process and I cannot emphasise enough the importance of taking early advice. I have set out below some of the problems that my clients have encountered as a result of their DIY skills:

  1. Filing the Divorce Petition themselves using the online portal

A lot of people now, especially with the rise of the Online Divorce Portal are preparing their own Divorce Petition. Whilst they think this may be saving time, costs and visiting a solicitor, many end up being in a situation where they are far worse off, not only financially but they have created delay or a repetition of work. These clients then find themselves in a position where they are having to instruct a solicitor which is costing them more as the solicitor is having to unpick the problems. The solicitor may have to amend the petition or, worse still, need to present a fresh petition with additional court fees running into the thousands. All of which could have been avoided if they had instructed a solicitor from the start. It is not the client’s fault, we, solicitors have trained for 7 years to be skilled in this area.

Some of the problems my clients have encountered are:

  • Parties misunderstanding what is meant by separation and presenting divorce petitions on the basis of 2 or 5 years separation and when the Court is provided with evidence in support of their Petition, their Petition has been rejected because they have failed to understand that eating together, sleeping together and doing things as a family means that they have not separated.
  • Failing to claim costs against the other person and the petition is defended and you cannot claim your costs. Or the person fails to sign the acknowledgement form and you have to instruct a process server which increases costs.
  • Failing to make your Financial Remedy claim within your petition and then going on to re-marry which then bars them from making an application save for a pension claim.
  • Incorrectly spelling names or failing to understand the process insofar as the Decree Absolute is concerned and putting themselves at risk of losing out on life policies, pensions and inheritance.
  1. Disposing or transferring assets before agreement has been reached on financial settlement

I have many clients who instruct me who have either already:

  1. Transferred the family home to one of the parties to the marriage
  2. Are in the process of selling the family home for which they have just agreed an equal split
  3. Have already sold the family home and divided the monies between them.

This can cause no end of problems with parties feeling pressurised into agreeing something because they may have a related purchase which may not go through if they can’t agree how the proceeds of sale of the family home are to be divided or they have no bargaining power because the main asset has already been distributed. Both parties do continue to have live claims against one another by virtue of the marriage which can only be dismissed by way of a Court Order, therefore, they are still able to bring Court proceedings. However, most cases may not get to Court if parties had gone to see solicitors right at the beginning when they had separated and before they had disposed of their assets.

With the introduction of No Fault Divorce becoming law in autumn 2021, it will be easier for parties to start the divorce process but I cannot emphasise enough parties who are married really need to get advice from an accredited family law specialist. At Neves we offer all new clients an initial consultation for £125 plus VAT. During that meeting we will take details from you regarding your circumstances and will provide you with advice which will be invaluable. Should you then wish to instruct us, our hourly rates are very competitive, and our Resolution Solicitors will be with you each step of the way.

Contact our Family Law team on 0330 0945 500, email or complete our Contact Form and we'll get back to you.