On the internet there is a whole host of websites offering “DIY Divorce” for a sum of money, usually far below what it would cost for a solicitor to handle your divorce. We have not tried any of them, so we do not know how far promises of “solicitor’s help by email” extend.
This page has free information on:
There is no law in England and Wales that says that parties have to have a solicitor in their divorce or civil partnership dissolution and both parties can represent themselves. Often, especially if both agree, only one former partner has a solicitor usually the one who starts the divorce or dissolution.
First, you can get all the forms and guidance notes for free from any branch of the Family Court or the Court Service website (see panel on the right), so there is no need to pay someone for it.
Secondly, the adverts may not tell you that you still need to pay court fees of £410. Please note that you may qualify for a total or partial fee remission. Again, the explanatory leaflet and the form are available online or from the court. The leaflet explains which benefits entitle to automatic fee remission and the income limits to qualify for fee remission if you are not on benefits.
You will need to find a branch of the Family Court near your home or work (or you can choose one anywhere in England or Wales). Branches of the Family Court in smaller towns are sometimes less busy and the process may be dealt with faster than in the large urban centres or at the Central Family Court in London. The Ministry of Justice Court Finder section lets you choose “divorce” or “civil partnership” in the box "Search by areas of law", which then shows you a list of branches in your area. For a civil partnership dissolution previously only the courts in the following locations were authorised and it is possible that if you try to hand in your application elsewhere, the court staff will ask you to go to one of these branches:
Of course any branch dealing with divorce must accept a divorce petition to dissolve a same-sex marriage.
Court staff cannot give you legal advice (and they have no legal training), although we have come across some who tried (and failed), but they can check whether you have all the forms you need together when you hand them in. Otherwise you could post them.
Even if you have agreed to make no financial claims against each other, there is no form you can use when you represent yourself to achieve a financial clean break between you and your former partner, to stop either of you from applying to the court for financial provision from the other later on. Please note that there is no limitation period for financial claims and if you do not get the court to dismiss the claims, your former partner may be able to come back for financial provision years later. See also the financial section for the dangers.
Theoretically you could pay the £255 court fee, make a financial application, each complete the 28-page disclosure form, “Form E” and then come to the first appointment 12-16 weeks later and ask the judge to draft a financial order for you. This would be a lot of work by comparison to getting a solicitor to draft a clean break consent order for you and completing a short financial information form. If you send a consent order to the court, the fee is also only £45.
There are a number of reasons why you may prefer to get a solicitor. Here are some:
If you cannot agree on finances, the fastest and cheapest way to come to an agreement is mediation.
For advice on your specific circumstances contact Andrea Woelke at Alternative Family Law: ring us on 020 7407 4007 (+44 20 7407 4007 from abroad) or email us (stating your full name, the full name of the other person in your case and your telephone number on which we can call you).
Please note that we do not have a contract to take on cases on legal aid. To check if you may be able to get legal aid please go to this government website and contact a solicitor who has a legal aid contract.
1 August 2014 by Andrea Woelke
Next: Divorce Procedure
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This is an outline of the law, practice and procedure in England and Wales. It should not be taken as specific advice. All families and couples are different. The law may have changed since this was written and we therefore accept no liability for inaccuracies. Where examples are given, your personal circumstances may vary slightly, but the difference may be significant for the outcome of the legal process. Contact us for specific advice on your own circumstances.
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