Do-It-Yourself Divorce: Risks, consequences, and importance of expert legal guidance
No fault divorce online is relatively straightforward. It was always meant to be; the form is simple and the current administration fee is £593.
It does not follow that financial issues arising from divorce are straightforward or that they can be separated from the divorce process. In fact, there can be a significant risk of financial loss if the financial outcome (including a court order) is not streamlined within the divorce process.
Potential Pitfalls of a DIY Divorce
1. Risk of losing your widow’s (or widower’s) pension rights.
If you fast-track your divorce to final decree (which used to be called decree absolute) you may lose your widow’s (or widower’s) pension rights.
2. Re-Marriage Trap
If you fail to tick the financial claims boxes on the online divorce petition, then re-marry without issuing a formal application for financial provision (known as Form A), you may be caught by the “re-marriage trap”. This is a statutory bar to making financial claims against your former spouse.
3. Unresolved Finances Post-Divorce
A final decree will not prevent your former spouse from pursuing you in later years if finances are left unresolved. The final decree of divorce does not achieve financial finality. It can be a painful process to be pursued by a former spouse many years after the divorce if, for example, you acquire assets through post-divorce hard work or good fortune. That could include a lottery win, promotion or an inheritance.
4. Immigration or Visa Issues
Unresolved immigration issues (including visa status) could be prejudiced as a result of a hasty application to divorce.
5. Loss of Pension Benefits
If you obtain a pension sharing order, you are advised to wait 28 days from the date of the order before making your application for final decree. Failure to do so could mean the loss of valuable pension benefits, such as widow’s pension, before the pension sharing order has been implemented.
6. Risk of Losing Right of Occupation
Rights of occupation in the matrimonial home may expire on final decree. If financial claims have not been resolved by the time of final decree, it is advisable to extend the occupation rights.
7. Unwanted Tax Issues
In some cases, an application for final decree may have adverse tax consequences.
8. Unwanted Stress
Divorce proceedings are stressful – even the online process. It is one of life’s significant events both in terms of child arrangements and securing financial security for the future. You may wish to unload the stress with the support of a legal advisor.
My respectful advice is to employ a solicitor and to use your chosen solicitor wisely because DIY solutions can lead to adverse consequences which are much more costly than legal fees. Many solicitors offer initial appointments for free or for a fixed rate.
At Anthony Gold, we offer a free 20-minute consultation which can be booked below:
This consultation can be helpful for getting an overview of the legal situation, some initial information about potential ways forward, and general guidance on costs and timescales.
For more extensive, detailed, and tailored advice, we usually offer a 1-hour consultation for a fixed fee of £200 plus VAT. At this meeting, your solicitor will gather more information, advise you on the law, outline what your options are, and advise you on what your best option(s) would be.
Anthony Gold’s family team are all expert family lawyers who are accredited by Resolution as experts in their field. The team has a number of qualified collaborative lawyers and mediators best equipped to resolve difficult and challenging disputes. They are experienced in dealing with financial and children applications within the Family Courts too.
For more insight into the range of services we offer, explore our website, email us at email@example.com or give the team a call at 020 7940 4060.* Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*