why should I do a DIY divorce?
Online divorce or – even cheaper – just going to get the paperwork from the courts and doing it all yourself – is the least expensive way to get a divorce, providing neither party is going to disagree with any aspect of the divorce. In other words, if you have no complicated assets – like pensions to split which is a very specialized area, or child access issues – then DIY is probably your best option.
The key advantages are that you don’t need to hire a specific lawyer or legal firm; there is no reason for the divorce to be held up as long as you both fill in the required paperwork; and providing your financial settlement is deemed fair by the judge who will have to rubber stamp the paperwork then the whole thing can be dealt with painlessly from a practical point of view.
Even if you need help deciding how to split pensions and equity in property etc, you can both make use of a financial planner or financial mediator who has the relevant experience to help you, which would be sensible. Someone mediation trained is likely to be able to support you through any tricky discussions and keep the process amicable. Most lawyers don’t have the specialized skills to sort out pension splitting so choose the support you get carefully, getting the right person to do the job they have trained for.
Self Representing or being a Litigant In Person (LIP) also saves you money by not employing a solicitor, and you still have the freedom to be in charge of your own case, although the fact that you are going to court means you are going to spend more money than if you had agreed on everything and stayed out of court.
Why become an LIP?
To save costs on solicitors fees;
Staying in control of the process – only you understand your case inside and out and potentially you are the best person to fight your own corner;
Because mediation was not an option;
You don’t qualify for legal aid;
You fancy a challenge.
But there are downsides to being an LIP.
A huge research job and complex case management, even if you have basic legal knowledge;
No-one will thank you for all your hard work – in fact you may feel bullied by your spouse’s lawyers and District Judges are reputed to dread LIP’s because of the amount of extra time they take up in court through not understanding legal process or having the correct information to hand in supporting documents.
A tip from LIPservice is to write to the District Judge prior to the court date and introduce yourself as an LIP, and say that you “may be at times relying on the court’s assistance”, which gives the court advance warning of your position.
Then having warned them that you are not supported by a solicitor or barrister in court, make sure you manage your case efficiently. Keep a spot-on trial bundle, 3 copies of everything, and sufficient Authorities (precedents or previous cases where the judge has found in favor in an identical case of what you are trying to get this judge to do) which you have fully researched and printed out in advance.
All this may seem very daunting – and it is – but you can get advice and support from online forums on Wikivorce or more directly from companies like LIPservice.