Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you have any legal concerns we suggest you consult a solicitor.

How do you divorce now, without Legal Aid.

(20 Posts)
picturebox Sat 23-Mar-13 12:15:42

Already put this in Divorce, but no reply, hoping ore here

On behalf of a friend.

H walked out for OW before Christmas.

3 kids

Own House

She works minimum wage full time

He earns 60.000 plus a year

She saw a solicitor, who has now gone bust, new solicitor says too late to re apply with them for legal aid.

He wants to sell house, she wants to stay.

He hasnt paid anything for kids since leaving.

Calling all the shots, as knows she cant afford legal help.

Surely there must be something she can do ?

KateDillington Sat 23-Mar-13 12:21:48

Ask CAB but I am in a similar position and I am just having to act in person in court.

It's not impossible, as far as I've read. I don't know what the other solution is. CAB suggested I get a loan to pay a solicitor but the costs will be 10k +. I can't get a loan for that!

picturebox Sat 23-Mar-13 12:24:18

Its awful, her ExH, is a conniving manipulative bastard, and the thought of representing herself while he tries to bully her all the way is terrifying.

KateDillington Sat 23-Mar-13 12:26:56

Yes I'm in a similar position. It's the most stressful thing I've ever done and I've barely started - but I don't know what else to do.

CAB were very supportive and at least made me feel that what I was doing wasn't mad / impossible.

Women are going to be STUFFED by this legal aid being withdrawn. There is a complete gap now for women needing to get divorced from husbands who hold all the assets. I can't believe it's happening really. It's grossly unjust. The whole system is set up to be confrontational and to ensure that solicitors make as much money as possible. There is no 'formula' to use to ensure that things are done fairly. It's just a mess.

titchy Sat 23-Mar-13 12:50:23

Self rep I assume, with advice from CAB and Mumsnet! CSA for child support though.

RedHelenB Sat 23-Mar-13 14:08:13

Bottom line - can she afford the mortgage & bills on child benefits, tax credits & child maintenance?

RedHelenB Sat 23-Mar-13 14:09:27

Oh & she needs to ring the CSA with her husbands NI no & work & phone details first thing on Monday morning!

STIDW Sun 24-Mar-13 15:29:59

The actual divorce isn't too difficult to do oneself if you are prepared to do some research and form filling. Form D8 and guides D183/184 are available to download from the Ministry of Justice website. There are also leaflets EX50 (or EX150?) list of court fees, EX160 & leaflet EX160A? for people on low incomes to applying for exemption from court fees and Form A and guide to apply for "financial remedies." There are guides "Do your Own Divorce" by solicitor John Bolch and "Family Courts Without a Lawyer" by barrister Lucy Reed.

However the finances aren't straight forward and it isn't just possible to read the law to understand it so I wouldn't recommend trying to do it yourself without consulting a lawyer to at least find out where you stand and what options there are (BTW I'm not a lawyer). The law changing legal aid also makes provision for the courts to order a spouse makes a payment to the other spouse to cover costs of legal services and although it remains to be seen how these orders will be used in practice it's worth discussing along with other possibilities for funding with a solicitor.

After seeing a lawyer if your friend can negotiate an agreement possibly through mediation it will be from an informed position. A solicitor would then be required to draft the agreement into an order which would be legally binding once approved by the court.

Spero Sun 24-Mar-13 15:42:04

The financial aspect is usually quite straightforward, unless one of you has lots of Swiss bank accounts or family trusts in the Cayman Islands.

Look at section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 - that tells you what the court considers, which is basically everything to do with your finances. Children under 18 are courts first consideration and assets should be fairly split, taking into account who needs them most.

Most people just don't have enough money to make it worth while having a long drawn out and complicated battle.

You need to sit down and draw up a clear list of your assets and liabilities and what you need as well as what can be afforded. You have to be realistic. If the children are of school age, you need to think about your earning potential.

I tend to find in 90% of my cases, because of limited assets and the needs of small children, there are only a few possible outcomes the court will endorse and these tend to be pretty obvious early on.

However Pension sharing orders etc are going to be v difficult for lay people to sort out.

It is probably worth seeking advice at particular points along the way, just to make sure you are headed in right direction. I hope solicitors will offer a few hours consultation at reasonable cost.

Xenia Sun 24-Mar-13 16:03:29

Very good advice above.
The thread also illustrates the importance of women not giving up work and ensuring they earn more than their husbands so certainly worth encouraging daughters in that direction for the next generation so reliance on male money becomes a thing of the past.

MOSagain Sun 24-Mar-13 18:06:32

Yes, of course Xenia, however, most of us live in the real world where that doesn't happen

Xenia Mon 25-Mar-13 11:02:18

Why in the real world in 2013 when more women graduate than men and more women earn more than their men than vice versa up to age 30 though do we have so very many women living off male earnings? Hooking up to a richer man off whom they live and then who discards them without mnoey once they have been silly enough to give up full time work?

Surely we need to be out there saying to these women don't give up your full time job or you'll pay the price.

MOSagain Mon 25-Mar-13 11:28:34

Yes, but sadly I think you'll find that when these women give up their career to support their husband/raise their children they are blissfully happy and of course don't consider the fact that 5 - 10 years down the line he will be a lying bastard who will discard them in favour of a younger model.

Spero Mon 25-Mar-13 14:17:25

I agree with Xenia to extent that there needs to be a lot more willingness for couples to sit down and really talk about what their choices might mean for them in the long term - a lot of men I deal with clearly do NOT value any contribution to family life that doesn't involve a financial transaction. They begrudge recognising a woman's contribution to child care and housekeeping. Equally some women don't seem to understand that they may not be able to hang onto four bed matrimonial home without working.

We need a lot less pussyfooting around and recognition at the outset that many marriages don't make it and a woman with primary care of a couple of small children could be in a very difficult position.

When I am prime minister, no one will be allowed to marry without pre marital counselling, involving full discussion of mutual attitudes to child care, housework and pension provision.

MOSagain Mon 25-Mar-13 14:24:01

LOL. I see from your first paragraph you've met my DH wink
totally agree with you. Think about it, when pre-nups first started being discussed, how many people actually did them? Very very few because of course they were marrying 'the one' and of course nothing was going to go wrong.

Spero Mon 25-Mar-13 14:28:14

Yes, your DH and his legions of followers... But it's MY house! I paid for it! She's not having any of my pension etc, etc, ad nauseam.

Think the prob with pre nups is the perception they focus on money and are seen as grasping. Far more valuable is a pre marriage audit so that both know they share similar values and will recognise and value each others contributions.
Amazed at number of my friends who for eg, have loads of children without ever apparently discussing where they stand on issues like discipline, family rules etc.

RedHelenB Mon 25-Mar-13 15:53:05

Spero - I had all those discussions with my ex but when they decide it's time to change their minds they can surprise you with their behaviour, particularly where there is someone else involved!!!

Spero Mon 25-Mar-13 16:16:45

I guess there is no accounting for general bastardness

McKenzie13 Mon 25-Mar-13 20:21:30

Hi picturebox.

There are many people who are in the same boat these days, especially with the cuts being made to legal aid.

If you can't afford representation then you can do it yourself. Some prefer to go alone. Others want the assistance of a McKenzie Friend. So on that score I wouldn't worry too much.

The form filling is quite basic.

When deciding how to split the marital assets the court will consider many factors. These are set out in s25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Factors will include things like age of both parties; length of marriage; children; age of children; standard of living enjoyed together; earning potential; future needs etc. There is no rule of thumb except one- money follows the children. Their needs now and in the future are the utmost priority.

The fact that your friend has three children (presumably with the man she's divorcing) would suggest that they remain in the house. Your friend could seek spousal maintenance; child support; a transfer of property; a lump sum and pension sharing to name a few of options available to her.

In relation to the children I would suggest that she approaches the CSA to start a claim.

What is clear is that the children's needs and hers are greater than those of her ex-husband's.

So tell your friend not to be daunted. There is much help and assistance about, even if she can't afford a solicitor.

Xenia Thu 28-Mar-13 12:25:04

I have a child getting married. I have talked about those issues. You want to check they have similar attitudes to money, that it is clear who if either will give up full time work, whether both their parents worked full time or they are from a culture where women serve and clean and are only given their keep if they are lucky. I agree that some people do change however although we did not - in my long marriage we both had a similar work ethic and attitude to money which definitely helped on divorce.

Also once they are abotu 13 children often can decide which parent they will live with so if money follows the children and children stay in the house and choose their father then mummy can be out on her ear working fulltime to pay her husband part of the children's keep and that is perfectly acceptance in a non sexist marriage of course (and divorce like mine where women pay out to men as they earn more).

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now