what is DIY divorce?
There are two varieties:
DIY out of court – which means you get the necessary paperwork from your local family courthouse, fill it in, submit the forms and if both of you agree on everything then hey presto, it’s all done and dusted. Of course you will need to wait two years after an official separation if you want to avoid stating grounds for the divorce – such as infidelity, abandonment etc – but even then couples sometimes agree to ‘lay blame’ for something that they both know is not true on one of them, in order to not have to wait that long.
There are many online ‘quickie divorces’ that can be bought, which can provide guidance in filling in the paperwork, make sure that the grounds are are correct for the couple, advise on behaviour petitions, ancillary relief paragraphs and also when it comes to the finances prepare consent orders that include pension sharing. Don’t just go for an online divorce option because you think it will be ‘quick’ or ‘cheap’ – there are some very reputable online services who provide realistic timescales but even so success depends upon the divorcing couple agreeing on everything and being reasonable about how they share any assets. At the end of the day, a judge has to rubber stamp your financial agreement part of the divorce and if they feel it is not ‘fair’, you’ll have to go back to the drawing board.
DIY in the court – which is where you represent yourself in court against your spouse. Self representing is called being a ‘litigant in person’ or LIP for short. Although you do not use a solicitor, there is nothing to stop you getting legal advice, paying the hourly rate for specific details that you don’t want to spend hours researching, or because you want to get some initial guidance. Or you can pay less and get that guidance from someone who supports LIP’s and knows where to find the relevant information.
Top tips from LIPservice for anyone wanting to (or financially needing to) self represent is to become aware of the Public Direct Access Scheme, through which you can hire your own barrister – rather like a hired gun – to represent you for specific areas of the court case. It is costly (can be at least £1,500 for one hearing) but if there are complex issues regarding child custody, your spouse threatening to go bankrupt, hiding of assets or just being too scared to be on your own fighting your corner, then it could be money well spent. Unfortunately, going to court is an expensive option which is why avoiding it wherever possible is a good idea.
Although solicitors can represent you in court, the cost will still be high and they are not specialized advocates. If you are going to get specialized help and pay all that money, make sure you get someone who has the experience and expertise to give you your money’s worth.
If you find yourself as an LIP up against your spouse’s barrister in court, and you feel it is a tad unfair that they can spend all that money on legal support while you can’t even get legal aid and have no funds available in the form of assets through which you can reasonably raise finance for a litigation loan, then despair not. To put you on a slightly more even footing in your ability to gain legal advice or pay for a barrister, you can apply for a cost allowance as there is a legal requirement that some kind of fairness needs to exist when it comes to the process of divorce. The one who holds the purse strings should not be the only one who can afford to pay for legal advice.
Shared stories by LIP’s: read them here…..