The dangers of DIY divorce

18th April 2016

The discovery of a fault on the government’s own divorce portal late last year has once again highlighted the dangers of DIY divorce. Thousands of divorces may have been voided if an incorrect formula on the Ministry of Justice website was used to calculate the financial settlement.

Since the withdrawal of legal aid for most family law cases, many people have been tempted to opt for a 'quickie', do-it-yourself divorce, online. Promoted as a cost saving service this might seem like an appealing route. However, one in four DIY divorce petitions are flawed and have to be returned for correction due to errors in procedure, lack of information or in some cases, failure to enclose the correct fees.

For the majority of couples, separating your emotional and financial ties is not that straightforward and the benefits of instructing a Resolution accredited family solicitor far outweigh the potential cost savings of trying to handle it yourself.

There is lot more to getting divorced than just ending your marriage. The court will want to know where you and your children will live and how often they will see the other parent. You will also need to reach a financial settlement, deciding on how assets like your home, business, pensions and savings will be shared. You should never sign an agreement without taking legal advice, as you may be bound to terms you did not know about.

Susan Davies, head of family law at Ansons Solicitors in Lichfield has seen the confusion and vulnerability of people who divorce without representation. With this comes a tendency to be on the defensive, refusing to speak to anyone from the other side, refusing to negotiate or agree anything. This all adds to the time and costs of the divorce in the long term.

“At Ansons we promote open negotiation above anything else. We recommend collaborative law to our clients and know that this is the best way to agree arrangements for your children, your home and finances,” says Susan.

If you do end up going to court, representing yourself within divorce proceedings without help from a solicitor is rarely straightforward. The rules are complex, and there will be no one from the court service to advise you what to do.

Your solicitor will advise you whether an agreement is fair, and be there to guide you when your judgement may be clouded. On online service cannot replace the years of experience, and knowledge of the Lichfield courts that a local solicitor can provide.

For confidential advice on divorce, arrangements for children and financial settlements contact Susan Davies, head of family law at Ansons Solicitors in Lichfield on 01543 267 190 or email