If you are getting divorced, you might be tempted to go down the DIY route in order to save on expensive legal fees.  But is this really a good idea, and is the DIY divorce as straightforward and easy as you might think?  Here's a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages of handling your divorce yourself.

What is a DIY divorce?

A Do It Yourself Divorce (DIY) is the legal process by which a marriage or civil partnership may be dissolved without the need for the parties to attend family court.  The necessary paperwork may be collected from the court's office to be completed and returned by the divorcing couple.  A processing fee is paid to the court.  Provided there are no delays in the relevant paperwork being signed and returned by both parties, the divorce may be finalised in as little as a couple of months.

DIY divorce is best-suited to couples who are childless and who are both in agreement about the divorce itself and the financial arrangements to be made when the divorce is finalised.  More complicated cases where assets are disputed or future child maintenance considerations are involved, are best handled by a professional firm of family and divorce attorneys.

What are the advantages of a DIY divorce?

In uncomplicated cases, a DIY divorce is relatively straightforward and inexpensive, as there are no lawyer's fees to pay.  However, there is the option of a 'half-way-house' arrangement where you still ask a solicitor for advice when you need to do so, whilst carrying out the bulk of the work yourself.

What are the disadvantages of a DIY divorce?

The primary disadvantage of attempting a DIY divorce with no legal support is that you could end up agreeing to demands that seem acceptable at the time, but that later leave you at a considerable financial disadvantage.  For example, one party might agree not to make any claim against the value of the equity held in a jointly-owned property, only to find that it was worth considerably more than they thought, leaving them out of pocket. 

Such mistakes are easily made when emotions are running high and you just want the divorce over and done with so that you can move on with your life.  But, remember that once the divorce has been legally finalised, it's too late to go back and dispute any of the terms you've agreed to.

Another potential pitfall is the paperwork.  This might at first seem straightforward, but if you're not familiar with legal matters, the whole process may become confusing and time-consuming. 

In conclusion

Although DIY divorce might seem like a very cost-effective way of proceeding, there can be pitfalls.  It's always best to seek the advice of an experienced family or divorce attorney before taking the DIY route, as what seems like a cheap option now could prove very expensive if things go wrong in the future.