DIY divorces on the up

Liverpool law firm Maxwell Hodge is warning that cheap DIY divorces are on the increase, but are leaving couples with big bills in the long run.

Recent figures from Cafcass, the family court service, reveal that in 42% of court cases neither party had legal representation.

Divorce online, a DIY divorce provider has also reported a 56% rise in clients in 12 months.

Pamela Thorniley, who heads up Maxwell Hodge’s family law team said:

“DIY divorces are really on the up and as a result we’ve seen a big increase in work, correcting poorly put together divorce petitions and financial consent orders. Clients are taking the DIY route to save costs but what often ends up happening is that it costs the client more in the long run, than if they’d commissioned a solicitor.

“I’m currently dealing with a couple of cases where the client’s have relied upon online advice to prepare the divorce papers. In the first case the petition that was produced and filed at court cited extreme allegations and caused upset to both parties who had previously maintained an amicable separation. In the other case the parties prepared a DIY consent order in respect of their finances which was approved by court, but full of errors. The parties involved have now ended up spending more on bringing solicitors in to correct the problems than if they’d instructed solicitors to represent them in the first place.”

According to Pamela more and more people are seeing divorce proceedings as an administrative box ticking exercise that can be done without legal advice.

She said:

“I appreciate that DIY divorces give couples a low cost alternative to getting their decree absolute, but often where the parties have not received proper legal advice they don’t cover the key issues regarding property, finance and pensions. What they end up with is an agreement that doesn’t address all of the issues or contain the details needed to put the agreement into effect. This means that couples end up returning to their settlement at a later date, spending more money to rectify the earlier mistakes.

“It is also important to recognise that it is very difficult to re-open an agreement after it has been approved by the court, even if a more appropriate order would have been made had the parties taken legal advice at the outset. I therefore urge couples to at least get some legal advice before opting for the DIY option in order to avoid expensive mistakes.”

For more information and legal advice contact Maxwell Hodge on or call them on 0151 227 4545.

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