You can ask our online solicitors for advice on DIY divorce using the question box on the front of our website or the following free legal advice guide may answer your questions.
Not all divorces are complicated or reach a stage where the couple are no longer on speaking terms. Sometimes relationships break down and the couple mutually agree to a divorce. Where this applies and there is an amicable separation, it may be possible to opt for a DIY divorce. This is a more cost effective option and minimises the risks.
That said, although it’s a DIY process the couple will still need to follow the legal guidelines to ensure that the divorce is legally recognised and their marriage or civil partnership is officially dissolved.
DIY Divorce Explained
The do-it-yourself divorce or civil partnership dissolution is a fairly straightforward process and allows a couple to divorce with little to no intervention from a family law solicitor. If the DIY divorce or dissolution is to work, the couple must be able to reach decisions themselves, communicate effectively and reach their own decisions independently without legal assistance.
To complete a DIY divorce, the couple must satisfy the following:
- They wish to end their marriage or civil partnership officially
- The couple have a good idea of how finances and property will be divided
- Where the couple have children, an agreement has been reached as to where the children will live and access arrangements for the other spouse.
Most disputes and difficulties in divorce proceedings arise when there is a disagreement between splitting assets or organising new living arrangements for the children. Where a couple can negotiate their own financial settlements and agreements for children without legal support, this can achieve significant cost savings and enable proceedings to conclude much quicker.
Arranging a DIY Divorce
If you wish to complete divorce proceedings without intervention from a solicitor, you can do so provided that the divorce is not overly complicated or complex. This type of divorce is more suited to couples who fulfil the following criteria:
- The period of separation has been at least five years and both spouses agree that a divorce or dissolution is the best course of action
- A couple who have been married or in a civil partnership for a particularly short period of time (less than five years but more than one) The minimum period in Northern Ireland is two years.
- There are no children involved in the case
- The couple have lived in the same area of the UK for at least a year
- There is an ability to negotiate, discuss and agree on arrangements amicably and there is no need to involve a solicitor in the proceedings
Where these apply, a couple can arrange a DIY divorce or dissolution. Forms can be obtained from and returned to the courts for processing. The only fees payable are the court fees.
If you choose this type of divorce, it cannot take less than six weeks to finalise from starting the legal process. The usual timeframe however is at least four months for a divorce or dissolution. This short timeframe is for a divorce or dissolution that is relatively straightforward.
Where it involves additional or complex issues, it can take much longer than this.
It is certainly possible to navigate through a DIY divorce or dissolution without intervention from a solicitor. However, it is strongly recommended that you attend at least one meeting with a solicitor to undertake a ‘safety check’. This will ensure that all bases have been covered and considered.
A qualified solicitor who specialises in divorce will be able to review the arrangements that have been made and ensure that they are both fair and legally sound.
Solicitors will also advise on the importance of obtaining a legally binding court order which maps out financial arrangements which have been agreed between the couple, even if the court order states that neither party wishes to make a claim to the other for any money.
This is an additional safeguard which is put in place to prevent any future claims being made by either party.