Untangling DIY Divorce Disasters - Case Studies

Author:
James Skinner
Associate Solicitor, Family Law and Divorce
Date:
20/07/2020

Getting a divorce in England and Wales is much more straight-forward than it ever has been, but it’s important to be careful of any pitfalls that may come with attempting to do it yourself.

Divorce Petitions can now be issued online which makes it easier than ever to issue your own petition and bring an end to your marriage. Because of this you may wonder why you should instruct a Solicitor to help you with your divorce. And if a good Divorce Solicitor is worth spending your money on.

Ending your marriage is one thing but dealing with the financial consequences of your divorce is a step that many divorcees forget about. If you don’t divide your finances properly, or just leave things to chance, then this can come back to haunt you many years down the line.

Our Divorce Solicitors have dealt with hundreds of divorce cases over their careers. We can make the process as quick and pain free as possible, as well as save you money in dealing with the divorce petition. We can take all the worry off your shoulders.

And if you take advantage of our Fixed Fee Divorce service, you’ll know exactly how much it costs – £600 including VAT.

For initial legal advice get in touch with our Divorce Solicitors.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

DIY Divorce Disasters

We have helped many divorcees untangle their DIY divorce disasters. Here are two ongoing divorce cases that show that a DIY divorce might cost you much more in the long run.

Case Study - Mr & Mrs Smith

Client Situation

When Mr and Mrs Smith decided to end their marriage 11 years ago, they were both quite happy to co-operate through the divorce.

On a sheet of paper, they drew up a type written agreement. The agreement dealt with what was going to happen to the family home, debt payments, and how they were going to divide their assets. They both signed this agreement, thinking it would be binding.

But Mr Smith never quite got round to transferring the family home into his sole name as he had agreed to with Mrs Smith years ago. He found himself with an interest only mortgage coming up to be redeemed, which means that Mr Smith would have to pay a lump sum of money to end his mortgage term.

Sadly, Mrs Smith had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and was now in a care home. Her finances were being dealt with by a Court appointed Deputy, who was trying to maximise the value of Mrs Smith’s Estate (all of her valuables) and meet her care home fees.

Mrs Smith’s daughter applied for help with care home fees, telling the local authority that her mum had no interest in a property. This turned out to be wrong because the signed agreement wasn’t sufficient enough to be legally binding.

Mr Smith didn’t know what to do when he discovered that the property was still in joint names. The Local Authority knew nothing about this and were putting pressure on Mr Smith to pay the care home fees. Mr Smith was very concerned that the house that he had hoped to leave to his children was in jeopardy.

How We Helped

Mr Smith contacted our Divorce Solicitors and spoke with me, and I explained that I have years of experience in dealing with divorce and Court of Protection cases.

I advised Mr Smith that he’d done the right thing by contacting us. As only an experienced Solicitor would be able to make sure that Mr Smith could be financially secure and any agreements could be properly dealt with. 

I knew that the Court will only ever look at the assets of the marriage as they are when a divorce application is made, not when Mr and Mrs Smith had agreed many years ago. 

Because Mrs Smith now has dementia, any application to deal with the house would have to be approved by the Court of Protection. Knowing that this could take months, I submitted an application as soon as possible. The Court of Protection may refer the case on to the Family Court to be dealt with, which might delay the issue further and cost Mr Smith even more in legal fees.

How We Could Have Helped

If Mr Smith would have contacted one of our Divorce Solicitors sooner, we could have helped him:

  • Get a Fixed Fee Divorce for £600
  • Get a Fixed Fee Consent Order for £900, which would have outlined how the house would be divided, e.g. that it would be under Mr Smith’s sole ownership
  • Make his divorce agreement legally binding
  • Save hundreds of pounds on Court Fees
  • Save a lot of time on Court proceedings and ensure that the family home was set to be inherited by his children

Case Study - Mr & Mrs Jones

Client Situation

Mr & Mrs Jones decided they wanted to get divorced. But Mrs Jones was very worried that by agreeing to the divorce, she would be left with nowhere to live, as the family home was in her husband’s sole name. 

Both Mr and Mrs Jones acted on their own behalf in divorce, but Mrs Jones also applied to the Court for a Financial Order.

In this Financial Order, the Court stated that Mrs Jones could stay living in her husband’s house for as long as she needed, and that Mr Jones should also pay her maintenance. But immediately after the Order was made in 2011, Mr Jones was offered a job abroad and has not returned to the UK since.

Mrs Jones recently found out that the mortgage of her family home is an interest only mortgage, which means that she has to pay a lump sum at the end of its term. Sadly, Mrs Jones can’t afford this.  She hadn’t received a penny of the maintenance that the Court had ordered Mr Jones to pay, so years later she knew that she needed to do something about this.

How We Helped

Mrs Jones contacted our Divorce Solicitors and I was happy to help her. She was reassured when I informed her that I have a lot of experience not only in divorce but also financial settlements and international divorce cases.

I soon discovered that Mr Jones had kept his financial circumstances almost entirely hidden. As well as the family home, Mr Jones also owned three other properties and a number of investment vehicles.

Mrs Jones was left feeling very uncertain about her financial position after finding herself living in a house that wasn’t hers and with little money to do anything about it.

I advised Mrs Jones that the only possible course of action would be to go back to the Court to ask the Judge to overturn the earlier Financial Order and force Mr Jones to disclose all of his financial assets. This would allow the Court to make a reasonable and proper Financial Order instead.

However, this is a lengthy and expensive process and one that Mrs Jones can’t easily afford.

How We Could Have Helped

If Mrs Jones had gotten legal advice from one of our Divorce Solicitors when her marriage first broke down, we would have been able to:

  • Advise her about the importance of full financial disclosure
  • Reveal all hidden assets, so Mrs Jones would know exactly what her husband owned
  • Divide assets fairly
  • Apply for a far more understandable and long lasting Financial Order
  • Make sure that the maintenance payments were paid, and if not then legal action was taken against Mr Jones

These are just a couple of examples that show that money spent on legal advice when your marriage ends could save you much more in the long run. As trying to deal with your financial issues many years down the line will likely cost you much more.

Expert legal advice can help you deal with not only the divorce process but also dissolve any financial ties you have with your ex-partner. Using an expert Divorce Solicitor now could be vital for you.

For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors

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