Tough economic times mean more of us are trying to do ourselves what we'd have paid professionals to do in the past.
And that includes divorce: not only is divorce on the increase, but so too are the numbers of couples who are choosing to end their partnership without legal advice.
So is DIY divorce a good idea? The watchword seems to be that it certainly can be, but only if you fit into a quite specific category of divorcing couple.
Who should consider DIY divorce?
Getting a divorce without a solicitor could work for you if:
You've been separated from your partner for at least two years - in that case, you have grounds for divorce without getting into 'messier' reasons such as allegations of unreasonable behaviour or adultery.
You and your partner have a 'good' relationship, are communicating with one another and (crucially) see eye to eye on the arrangements for the children, and how you're going to sort out your finances.
All the above stays the same - sometimes you can start out with everything in place for a DIY divorce but one of you changes their mind. In that case, you may need to rethink.
Is it worth getting a legal opinion?
Hmm, that's a tricky one. Running your plans past a lawyer is almost always a good idea where something as serious as divorce is concerned, and especially if children are involved. However amicable your break-up has been, there might be some unforeseen circumstances you've not considered.
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Many people worry that a lawyer will invent uncover issues. But it's best to put your fears to one side and consult a lawyer for one session, if you can stretch to it financially. Tell your lawyer from the outset that you've decided on a DIY divorce, but just want to double-check there aren't any issues you've missed.
How to do a DIY divorce
- You can get all the forms you need from your local county court (www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk). If you have any questions, call your local county court. Officials can't offer legal advice, but they're usually very helpful when it comes to forms you don't understand. You'll need to pay a fee for the divorce procedure - currently, this is around £340.
- You'll need a divorce petition (Form D8) and, if you have children, a Statement of Arrangements (Form D8A).
- One of you will be the 'petitioner' and the other the 'respondent'.
- After the petitioner has sent Form D8 in to the court, the respondent is required to complete an Acknowledgement of Service (Form D10).
- The petitioner then completes an Application for Directions for Trial (Form D84) and an Affidavit of Evidence (Form D80) to ask the courts if you can divorce (you'll need a witness for the latter, but the court staff will do this for you).
- Assuming the judge agrees with all the paperwork, you'll be granted a Decree Nisi.
- Next, get a Consent Order (Form A and D81), which is drawing a final line under your claims to property or money from one another.
- Finally, you need to fill in an application for a Decree Absolute (Form D36). You'll be given a date of when this will be read in court, and once this has happened your marriage is legally ended.
DIY divorce in Scotland
What in England is called DIY divorce is usually referred to as 'simplified divorce' in Scotland, and the rules are different there, so it's not possible for couples with children aged under 16.
Mumsnet wisdom about do-it-yourself divorce
- My ex-husband and I did our divorce ourselves - just rang the court and asked for the forms. We were in full agreement re custody of the children and so on, and had no assets - it was very straightforward. And where it wasn't, there was a helpful booklet telling us what to do. Hassled
- My friend just got a DIY divorce and it took her three years. All was fine at first because her ex agreed... then he changed his mind re access and custody, and solicitors had to get involved. So yes, you can do it, but be prepared for it to go wrong if he decides he's not happy. Leslaki
- There's no reason why you can't act in person with regards to divorce. The court staff are quite helpful and will give you guidance on completing forms, though they can't give you legal advice. You'll need your marriage certificate to enable you to complete parts of the petition and this will need to be lodged at the court with the petition. Assuming there's no dispute about where the children will reside and contact arrangements, there's absolutely no need for the court to get involved with regards to the children. Mumoverseas