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The Perils Of DIY Divorce

These days many people take the view that they can save money by using a cut-price divorce service, or even by doing their divorce themselves without the assistance of a lawyer. But is it a false economy?

The problems that may be faced by those who do not have proper legal assistance fall broadly into two categories: not knowing the law, and falling foul of procedure.

Not knowing the law

An obvious example of this is not knowing what sort of financial settlement you are entitled to following a divorce. What if the other party (or their lawyer) insists that a certain settlement is all you are entitled to? How can you check this without taking proper legal advice? Obviously, achieving a less favourable financial/property settlement on divorce could cost you far more than the cost of instructing a lawyer.

Another very common example is not knowing what factors are and aren’t relevant to the matter before the court. That matter could relate to arrangements for your children, or to the financial/property settlement on divorce. Obviously, if you fail to bring to the attention of the court something that could help your case, then the likelihood is that the court’s order will be less favourable towards you. On the other hand, you may be penalised if you waste the court’s (and other party’s) time by continually referring to things that simply aren’t relevant. Falling foul of procedure

Court procedure, for example when dealing with an application for a financial/property settlement following divorce, can be quite complicated. Failure to follow the correct procedure could harm your case, and could even lead to you having to pay the other party’s costs. It is true that most judges are likely to be a little more lenient towards litigants without a lawyer, but there are limits to this – essentially, you are required to follow the same rules, whether you are represented by a lawyer or not.

Benefits of a good lawyer

Whether or not to have proper legal assistance is not just about the problems you may face if you do not. A good solicitor can actually save you time, stress and money by helping you reach an agreed settlement much more quickly than you might do without proper assistance.

Your solicitor will also be able to deal with other legal issues arising following divorce, such as conveyancing (divorce settlements often involve the sale or transfer of property), ensuring court orders are complied with and the making of wills.

Richard Howlett - Partner

Richard Howlett - Partner

On the cheap

In short, trying to do your divorce ‘on the cheap’ or by yourself can most certainly be a false economy. And don’t be fooled into thinking that your case is so straightforward that you don’t need a lawyer – very often a case that appears at the outset to be straightforward turns out to be anything but. When you go through a divorce you must deal with matters that can affect your entire future and your children’s futures. These are not things that should be dealt with on the cheap.

Richard Howlett is a solicitor at Selachii.

Telephone: 020 77925649

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