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DIY Divorce

DIY Divorce

Those of you following the Family Law Blog will remember that in June I expressed my views on DIY divorces (or, to be more accurate, ranted against them). It’s not that I don’t agree with couples taking control of the divorce process or agreeing together a fair financial settlement – of course I’m happy to support anything which makes these processes easier and smoother. And more cost effective. £50 online divorce can seem like a god send when a separating couple is trying to run two households on the same money. However…AOL Money UK published an online article this week in which they flag up some very important risks of DIY divorcing.

Not completing the divorce process

Yes, I agree, it does sound very unlikely but it is relatively common. Couples reach the Decree Nisi stage and assume the Decree Absolute will be automatically granted or they each believe the other will deal with the paperwork. In one high profile example, Andrew McLeod-Bailie initiated divorce proceedings from his then wife but failed to obtain the Decree Absolute. He subsequently got remarried at which point his first wife alerted the authorities to his bigamy and he had to plead guilty at Court to that offence.

Future Financial Claims

Very often couples engaging in online divorces do not seek legal advice about financial settlements and therefore assume that simply because they have separated their finances the matter is settled. Unfortunately, unless there is a Consent Order sealed by the Court in place, either party runs the risk of the other making a claim for further financial support later on in life, usually when one party’s financial situation is substantially better than the other’s.

Pensions

Pensions are my personal bugbear. These are complex pots of money which couples often treat with a very cavalier attitude if they don’t ignore them completely. As many as 85% of women forget to take pensions into account when separating despite the fact that these are often substantial assets.

There’s nothing to stop couples from DIY divorcing BUT it is important that both parties seek independent legal advice on all aspects of the separation – the divorce process, finances and children – at the beginning of the process.

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