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DIY Divorces – Are They Too Good To Be True?

Published on: 20 Feb, 2013
Updated on: 20 Feb, 2013
Stephanie Greenhalgh solicitor Divorce article

Stephanie Greenhalgh

Stephanie Greenhalgh, Family Law solicitor looks at the legal costs of divorce and whether cheap online deals really are too good to be true.

From April of this year legal aid support will only be available in divorce cases where domestic violence can be proven.  Couple this with the economy threatening to go into triple dip recession and the lure of quick, cheap online divorce deals can look very tempting for couples who have decided to separate. 

Many online companies offer divorces from as little as £37 which sounds like a great deal but I would strongly advise people not be lured.  However, there are ways to get divorced without having incur huge solicitor’s fee.

A DIY divorce will never cost you less than £50 whatever the advertising may say.  You will have to pay court fees of £385 for the divorce plus £45 for a financial consent order, so even if you did all the work yourself, this is the minimum your divorce would cost you.

There are ways to save money however.  For example, all the forms you will need for your divorce are available free from the court service website.  You do not need to pay an online company to get these forms for you.

The court service website is very comprehensive and also includes information leaflets telling you how the forms should be completed.

If you don’t have the funds to pay a solicitor to do all the work for you, you may find it useful to have a solicitor available just to give advice when needed.  Some of our recent clients have either started the procedure themselves or dealt with the whole main suit action in person just turning to us for advice as and when necessary.

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It certainly pays to be careful and to think about when you may need expert help as this will save you delays, frustration and a lot of money further down the line.

Here are some of the main pitfalls to avoid:

  • If certain boxes in the divorce petition are not ticked, you may need to apply to the court for permission to make certain claims in relation to finances.  This will add expense and delay to your settlement.
  • The statement in support of your petition needs to be completed correctly and this is where most people acting for themselves make mistakes which can lead to delays and frustration.
  • At this time you need to apply for a certificate of entitlement to a decree.  Applications are regularly rejected due to routine errors completing the paperwork which can lead to further delay, distress and confusion.
  • Don’t forget about finances – these are not covered by the divorce and your former spouse may make a claim at any time until they re-marry, regardless of time elapsed.  Online companies may offer to deal with finances for you but this is very risky as they won’t know your personal circumstances or do full enough investigations into what provisions you need and this may mean that you will lose out.
  • Beware – if you apply for Decree Absolute before finances are finalised, you may lose spousal rights, i.e. any death in service benefits, or pension rights.

DIY divorce deals need to be treated with caution.  You don’t have to use solicitors to reach an agreement, but it is helpful if they can draft financial orders for you to ensure that you do not lose out financially in the long term.  You will find that many family law solicitors understand the budget constraints you may be under, will work with you and will not charge a significant amount for simple drafting.

Stephanie Greenhalgh is a family law solicitor at Gordons Partnership LLP.  She can be contacted at or on 01483 451900

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