The trend towards money-saving DIY divorces is skewing the balance of financial settlements arising from marital splits.
SAS Daniels divorce lawyers, says that they feel like their team are rushing round trying to keep plates spinning as they mount more and more last-minute rescues of botched do-it-yourself divorces.
“September is the second busiest month for divorce applications after January – couples come back from holiday deciding they can no longer live together – but concerns over the cost of divorce means that too many are falling into the DIY-divorce trap,” said the Family team head.
“By October, we’re seeing more and more getting 90% of the way down the DIY track, realising they’ve made an error, getting confused and even intimidated by either the legal process or their partner, and end up spending massively more than the hair-raisingly scary £69.99 DIY divorce packages being touted online, and perhaps three times what a solicitor’s fees would have been had they chosen a specialist divorce lawyer from day one.
“Typical of a case I recently dealt with – which went literally down to the wire – was a wife who came to me for advice, but was persuaded by her husband to conduct a DIY divorce because he told her it would be so much cheaper.
“She cobbled together a petition, but, materially, she deleted from the petition a claim for financial provision which would have enabled her to make financial claims against her husband. When she came back to me several months later the alarm bells really sounded.
“She revealed that she was getting married in two weeks – but had still not reached any agreement with her previous husband on finance.
“The law is that where a party to a marriage after their divorce re-marries, they cannot bring a claim under the matrimonial legislation for financial provision against their ex-spouse unless a claim has already been instigated.
“The financial claim had not been instigated in this particular case because it had been deleted. And, in order to instigate a claim that has not been included in the divorce petition, the court’s permission is required.
“So we had to make application to the court supported by a sworn statement and appear before the judge in order to get the court’s permission before we could then make the application for financial provision.
“Time was very tight but we finally drove it through and her claim for financial provision was issued by the court the day before the date before she re-married.
“However, it probably cost three times as much than if she had engaged a solicitor from the outset – and, what’s more, if we had not acted quickly to protect her, then she would not have been able to claim any of the husband’s pension, seek any money from the sale of the family home (if it had been owned by him outright), and she would have been unable to seek any lump sum claims against him.”