Do I need a Solicitor to get a Divorce?

 In Family Law, Sarah Hull
Divorce

DIY Divorce is the same as conducting open heart surgery on yourself.

Sadly, marital breakdown is a common occurrence affecting about 42% of marriages in England and Wales. The ending of a marriage can be an extremely painful and distressing time for the whole family, particularly when there are children involved.

With a financial squeeze on our personal finances it is understandable why some people are turning to cheap online services when they get divorced. However, there is a real danger that cutting corners now could cost you financially in the medium to long term.

Divorce is rarely a straight forward and can be a highly complex matter even when the break up is reasonably amicable and there are no children involved or sizeable assets.  It takes 6-7 years to qualify as a family solicitor so it surprises me when people think they can manage their own divorce with no legal knowledge or experience. It is like conducting open heart surgery on yourself.

Even if you have managed to agree matters directly with your former spouse it is a very risky strategy to assume that your former spouse will always be good on their word or has told you everything you need to know about their finances and therefore you could miss out on what you are entitled to, such as pension provision, spousal maintenance or business-related payments.

That is the main advantage of having a solicitors assisting you. They can advise you of the options open to you, the long-term implications of your choices or the tax consequences of your arrangements.

Contrary to popular belief, verbal statements and informal written agreements are unlikely to hold up in Court. So, if you are separating or divorcing, it is vital that any financial agreement is properly thought through and recorded in a court order or deed of separation.

Without finalising matters through the Court, there is nothing to stop your ex pursuing you at any time in the future for a (further) financial settlement.

Another key point to consider in any divorce is what happens if one party remarries before the financial matters have been recorded in a court order? Following remarriage, the remarried party may not be able to ask the Court to deal with financial matters, which could be devastating for them.  It does not prevent the spouse who started the divorce proceedings from still applying to the court for financial matters to be considered provided they completed their divorce petition correctly but a Respondent will have to be very careful.

Five Benefits of instructing a specialist divorce solicitor

  1. They are objective in their advice offering impartial guidance throughout the process;
  2. They can advise you on what would be a fair settlement in your particular circumstances. One divorce does not fit all and 50/50 may not necessarily be “fair” in your situation;
  3. They know the complexities of the law and can navigate you through these to achieve the best outcome for you and your family;
  4. Court forms are correctly completed avoiding difficulties in proceedings further down the line saving you time and money; and
  5. You have peace of mind that all is in order. This, in itself, can be invaluable.

 

Five ways to keep your legal costs to a minimum

  1. Respond promptly to any communication received from your solicitor;
  2. Be organised and precise when you respond to them. Provide information and documents in an easy to understand format;
  3. Do not contact your solicitor unnecessarily. Agree at the outset how often your solicitor should update you of developments;
  4. Remember emails sent and received, no matter how short, will incur a cost; and
  5. Whilst we want to support you in every way we can, remember, we are not your therapists and therapists are much cheaper.

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