Why a DIY Divorce can be a False Economy

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Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

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So-called DIY divorces are often seen as a low-cost and convenient way of ending a marriage. But if you don’t get legal advice from a specialist Divorce Solicitor, you could be creating a whole host of problems, both for you and your ex-partner.

That’s because an experienced, highly qualified Divorce Solicitor will be familiar with the more technical aspects of getting a divorce, so can advise you on crucial matters such as applying for a Financial Order.

Without this kind of advice, a person who goes on to remarry could find themselves vulnerable to financial claims from their ex-spouse, even after their divorce has been finalised. A DIY divorce also provides greater opportunity for a person to be less than honest when it comes to financial disclosure of assets and investments. As a result, the other person might receive a divorce settlement that’s not entirely fair.

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What’s a DIY Divorce?

A DIY divorce is when you apply for a divorce without the help of a qualified solicitor.

Even if your divorce is predicted to be a straightforward case, there can be problems if you go ahead without legal advice.

Arranging a financial agreement or childcare agreement without professional support may seem like the cheapest way, but it can be complex with many things you need to consider. There most likely will be things that you forget, which can leave you at risk in the future. It’s important that you get all of your finances and assets in order at once, so you can get on with your life without looking back.

If you are adamant on going ahead with a DIY divorce, you should at least meet with a Divorce Solicitor to discuss your situation. This will help you to understand what your rights are and how the agreements and decisions you make will impact your life, as well as any children you have.

Our qualified solicitors will break it all down for you in plain English, so you don’t have to worry about legal jargon. We’ll explain everything you need to know in a way that’s easy for you to understand.

How Long Does a DIY Divorce Take?

From the time you start the legal processes, a DIY divorce may take around 6 months to complete. However, this is a guide because your financial situation could be complex and require many months of discussions.

If you and your ex-partner can’t come to an agreement, it could even take years for an agreement to get put in place.

someone putting their wedding ring down on a table

Divorce Without a Solicitor

Similarly, getting divorced without a Divorce Solicitor could mean child support isn’t correctly calculated and that a parent caring for a child doesn’t get the level of support they need.

As Divorce Solicitors, we’re firmly of the view that fuelling conflict and acrimony during divorce isn’t helpful, especially when children are involved. So, we’re keen to ensure these matters are resolved properly straight away, and don’t come back to bite years down the line.

Many people are put off going to a Divorce Solicitor as they believe we want to encourage confrontation and make the process more complicated than it needs to be. But at Simpson Millar nothing could be further from the truth.

A DIY divorce may, on the surface, appear quick, cheap and stress-free. So, if you’ve both mutually agreed to end your marriage amicably, it might seem an appealing alternative to getting a Solicitor. But a DIY divorce may not  really reflect the reality of the process, as you may not be familiar with all the legal technicalities that exist and ways to ensure a clean break from your partner in the future.

By getting the right legal advice at this critical time, you can get the assurance that your assets can’t be claimed by your ex in the future and know your child will get the support they’re entitled to receive. The peace of mind you can get as a result is beyond value and allows you both to move on in a positive way.

Disadvantages of a DIY Divorce

With a streamlined divorce process of a ‘no-fault divorce’ that was introduced in 2022, many couples are looking to cut costs even further by doing a DIY divorce.

What separating couples often don’t realise is that agreeing on child arrangements and how to divide assets can be complex. If you do this without legal advice, you may be losing out.

Here are some reasons why you should avoid doing a DIY divorce:

No Legal Support or Advice

If your split was amicable, it’s easy to think that a DIY divorce would be a good decision. But proceeding to do a divorce without the proper legal advice can be a risk. While you and your ex-partner may be on speaking terms, that doesn’t mean that you will agree on every decision.

If you instruct a Divorce Solicitor, they will work for you and look out for your best interests at all times. Especially if you are proceeding with valuable assets in your divorce settlement, as a solicitor can help you to take care of what’s yours.

If you continue with a DIY divorce, it may not be clear to you when an unfair deal is put on the table. A qualified and experienced solicitor can see through tactics and will advice you accordingly. Your solicitor will guide you throughout the process and offer their expertise to make sure that you get what’s rightfully yours.

We understand that going to Court can be off putting, but a lot of divorces can be settled outside of Court. For example, you may be able to come to an agreement through mediation.

Tied into Your Decisions

If you go ahead with a DIY divorce without the help of a solicitor, you could get yourself tangled. Every decision you make is permanent and there’s no way to take it back. Once your divorce has been finalised, reversing or amending your agreements can be very costly and complex.

If you have a Divorce Solicitor there to guide you, you will be able to talk through your options and what would work best for you. Your solicitor can outline the consequences of your options, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with.

If you pursue a DIY divorce and the financial settlement isn’t done correctly, it could mean that your ex-partner can apply for even more money in the future. For example, if you gain a large amount of money, your ex-partner may be able to claim money that doesn’t belong to them.

It’s best to get the help of a Divorce Solicitor so you can make sure that everything is done correctly the first time around, so there’s no loose ends.

Financial Loss

In DIY divorces, the risk of financial loss is huge. You may not understand the full extent of your ex-partners financial position and therefore you lose out on what you’re entitled to, especially if you have children together.

It’s common in DIY divorces for there to be an unfair division of finances and assets. It’s critical to deal with your financial settlements professionally so that there are no loose ends, to avoid any possibility of future assets or earnings beings claimed by your ex-partner in the future.

For example, if you don’t make arrangements for your pension, you could find yourself at a disadvantage when you retire.

When it comes to dividing your finances and assets, it’s important to consider everything including your pension, property, and income. Dividing these assets will involve many negotiations that you and your ex-partner likely won’t agree on. This is another reason why you should instruct a Divorce Solicitor, so that they can help you to negotiate wisely and settle on agreements that benefit you.

Are There Any Advantages to DIY Divorces?

Of course, as with anything, there are some advantages to proceeding with a DIY divorce, as long as you and your ex-partner are able to amicably come to agreements.

The most common reason for couples wanting to do a DIY divorce is that it reduces the cost. If you’re struggling financially, this could be the driving force behind the decision. But no matter how tempting it is to save money, it has to be said that a solicitor can often help you to secure more assets that you are owed.

Choose Simpson Millar as Your Divorce Solicitor

Here at Simpson Millar, we are experts at divorce settlements. We’ve helped thousands of clients secure what they deserve in their divorce proceedings, allowing them to provide for their family long-term.

If you’re considering a divorce and you would like to discuss how we can help, get in touch with our expert solicitors today. We’ll offer you a free consultation, where we’ll talk about your situation in great detail. You will then be given all your legal options, so you know exactly what to expect.

If you decide to proceed with us, we’ll work with you to get the best possible outcome.

Related Articles


www.lawsociety.org.uk. (n.d.). Getting a divorce. [online] Available at: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/public/for-public-visitors/common-legal-issues/getting-a-divorce

Citizens Advice. (n.d.). Getting a divorce or ending your civil partnership. [online] Available at: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/how-to-separate1/getting-a-divorce-or-dissolution/.

GOV.UK. (n.d.). Get a divorce. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/divorce/file-for-divorce

MoneyHelper.org.uk. (n.d.). DIY (do-it-yourself) divorce or dissolution. [online] Available at: https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/family-and-care/divorce-and-separation/diy-do-it-yourself-divorce-or-dissolution

Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

Areas of Expertise:
Family Law

Lorraine is a Partner at Simpson Millar, specialising in Family Law for over 20 years.

She handles middle to high net value cases, including pension claims and complex trust, and also advises on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.

Lorraine has unrivalled knowledge of public sector pensions, in particular police pensions, having advised police officers on pension claims for two decades.

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