DIY Divorce- Know The Rules

The Times recently reported that the Courts are being overloaded with “DIY Divorces” and that people representing themselves in divorce proceedings has increased from 35% to 57% in the last 5 years. Although this may be a cheaper alternative to instructing a solicitor, the legal process can be complex. If individuals are not familiar with the legal processes, mistakes can arise which risk delays and backlogs with the Court. So what are the key pitfalls of DIY divorces?

The Divorce Petition

The Divorce Petition is widely available and can be downloaded or completed by anyone online on the www. website. However, it is not always straightforward to complete and there are important legal implications if the petition is completed incorrectly. Some common areas for mistakes are:

The Five Facts

There is one ground for divorce which must be proven by one of five facts. There are different evidential requirements for each fact and often individuals do not realise that only one of these can be relied upon. This is particularly significant for those who seek to rely on adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

For example, adultery must either be admitted or proven. With unreasonable behaviour, the examples provided may not meet the legal threshold or may not be able to be relied on due to the time they took place. Individuals may also wrongly assume that their partner will accept the reasons given in the petition or provide consent to the petition which is required if the fact of two years separation is relied upon.

Jurisdiction issues

Another common mistake in completing the Divorce Petition is missing the section regarding jurisdiction. This is key as without this the Court will not be able to deal with the divorce proceedings.

Service details

The correct details for service of the petition must be provided. If the details are incorrect the other party may not receive
the Divorce Petition which can cause significant delays in the process.

It is key that the Divorce Petition is completed correctly to avoid issues and delays in the divorce process. A solicitor can ensure the petition is fully and correctly completed. They can advise on the fact which applies to your circumstances and the evidence that is required. Again, a solicitor can also advise on any jurisdiction issues.

Financial Proceedings

Couples often forget to consider the family finances and do not realise that they are a separate set of proceedings that need to be considered. Financial claims can remain open until dismissed by the Court and this could result in a financial claim being made sometime in the future, even after the divorce itself is finalised.

A separate application mustbe made to the Court to settle any financial matters between parties and any agreement must be approved by the Court for it to be binding. Taking legal advice is key as a solicitor can advise on the financial implications of divorce. They can also advise on the options available to you and when an application should be made to the Court. Further, even where parties are amicable and financial matters have been agreed, there is a risk that the Court will not accept the agreement if it is unfair to one party. A solicitor can advise about this and provide significant input on how the Court may view an agreement.

Fixed Fee Appointments

Steeles Law Family Solicitors offer an initial fixed-fee meeting for £100 (plus VAT) for up to an hour, or £125 (plus VAT) including a follow-up letter. The team also offer fixed-fee packages for divorce and financial proceedings.

We understand that at times your legal enquiry is sensitive and needs to be dealt with confidentially and privately, therefore, we can offer our website live chat option or email at for out of office enquiries and a member of the team will be happy to contact you at a mutually agreed time.

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