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The dangers of DIY divorce

In a bid to make the divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships process easier for separating couples to understand, the government is introducing a new set of forms to apply for divorce or dissolution with effect from 7 August this year. It is possible that, because of this, more people will be tempted to try to deal with divorce or dissolution proceedings themselves, particularly now that legal aid is no longer available in most cases.

While a DIY divorce may seem like a good idea, it can end up costing you more in the long-run, both financially and emotionally, as Michelle Uppal family law expert with Miles & Partners Solicitors in Liverpool Street explains:

‘The divorce and dissolution application forms may look more simple, but in order to ensure that your request to end your marriage or civil partnership is granted, great care needs to be taken to answer the questions correctly. There is only one basis for divorce or dissolution and that is that your marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down. However, there are multiple ways to prove this, including living apart, unreasonable behaviour, desertion and, in divorce cases only, adultery. Your solicitor can advise on what evidence will be accepted to prove irretrievable breakdown in your case.’

And, Michelle Uppal adds:

‘You also need to bear in mind that arrangements for children and decisions on how your finances should be split are not included as part of the divorce process and will therefore need to be dealt with separately – something that can be tricky to do without the benefit of legal advice. You need to be sure that the way your children will be cared for is fair and workable, bearing in mind the circumstances, and that any deal agreed with regards to your finances (other than in respect of payments for your children) is final where appropriate, to prevent your ex coming back in the future to ask for more.’

Using a solicitor to help you with your divorce or dissolution can help to ensure that:

  • you understand the circumstances in which a divorce or dissolution can be granted and the eligibility criteria for each of the different grounds you may rely on;
  • you use the right words in your divorce or dissolution petition and cite the most applicable reasons for ending your marriage or civil partnership, based on your particular circumstances;
  • you understand the meaning of any unfamiliar words or phrases and the implications of the actions you are taking;
  • all the paperwork you need to produce is completed properly to avoid your application being returned ;
  • you obtain any court orders needed as a result of the divorce or dissolution proceedings, including urgent orders to stop your ex trying to dispose of financial assets to limit what you can claim from them;
  • you think about your finances and the arrangements for your children at the same time your divorce or dissolution is being processed, so that all aspects relating to the end of your relationship can be dealt with together;
  • you get independent advice on whether the financial settlement you and your ex have agreed to divide your property, pensions and business interests is fair or if you could be entitled to more;
  • you think about if there is a disparity in your incomes whether you should claim for maintenance payments or push for a clean break? and
  • you make reasonable and practical arrangements for your children.

In some cases, you may be able to ask your ex to help fund the costs of your divorce and to pay for you to get advice on this and any related issues. Using a solicitor can help you find out whether this may be a possibility in your case.

If you are thinking about getting divorced, or dissolving your civil partnership, please contact Michelle Uppal on 0207 4260400 or email to find out how we can help.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

Michelle Uppal, Miles & Partners Solicitors, London

Michelle Uppal

Mediator and Solicitor | Head of the matrimonial department

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