The Pitfalls of DIY Divorces
Tough economic times mean more of us are trying to do things ourselves that we would have previously paid a professional to do on our behalf in the past. It would seem that divorce is no different, with many couples opting to “Do it \Yourself” with a view that it a cheaper and more expeditious process.
In Northern Ireland, a divorce/dissolution of a civil partnership may be presented to the Court after you have been married/in a civil partnership for a period of at least two years. A petition for divorce/dissolution of a civil partnership is presented to the Court along with supporting forms and documentation to include the original marriage certificate/certificate of civil partnership. All undefended divorces/dissolution of a civil partnership can be dealt with in either the High Court or a local County Court and the petitioner will be required to attend Court on the day the decree nisi hearing is listed before a judge to give evidence as to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Six weeks after the decree nisi has been granted, either party is at liberty to apply for the extraction of the decree absolute. It is important to note that the marriage/civil partnership is not dissolved until the decree absolute has been extracted.
If you are considering a “DIY divorce” you may wish to reflect upon the following points before making your mind up.
- Divorce and civil partnership dissolution often comes at a very stressful time in people’s lives. Solicitors understand that the breakdown of a relationship can be a difficult and stressful time for all involved, emotions are heightened and often this can cloud judgement. A solicitor can provide help and guidance to assist in alleviating some of this stress.
- If you were married/entered in a civil partnership outside of the United Kingdom, which has been a regular occurrence in recent times, you must obtain evidence of an expert in the local law of the country in which the marriage/civil partnership took place to prove that your certificate of marriage/civil partnership is likely to be accepted as evidence proving that a valid marriage/civil partnership took place. This can be a difficult take to undertake on your own; however solicitors have access to a range of experts who are able to assist in such circumstances.
- Drafting the petition for divorce and completing the supporting forms can be a time consuming exercise and some of the forms are somewhat archaic and use a lot of legal jargon. If you are attempting a “DIY divorce” then Court staff can assist with completing the petition and forms however they are not legally trained and cannot give any legal advice on issues arising from the divorce.
- If you plan a divorce/dissolution of a civil partnership based on the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage/civil partnership as evidenced by the other party’s behaviour, a solicitor can advise you on how strong the particulars of the other party’s behaviour have to be to get your petition through.
- If a former spouse/civil partner does not fully engage or co-operate with the proceedings and fails to file the acknowledgement of service in order that the matter can be set down (listed) for hearing, a solicitor can discuss these options with you and make various applications to the Court in attempts to progress the proceedings in spite of the other party’s lack of engagement.
- If there are outstanding matters pertaining to any children of the marriage such as a dispute as to the residence of the children or arrangements for contact, it is best to discuss such matters with a solicitor in attempts to resolve them as such issues can delay any petition for divorce as the welfare of the children is a paramount concern for the Court.
- It can be difficult to achieve a financial clean break without a solicitor acting on your behalf. Even if you have agreed a financial settlement with your former spouse/partner, there may be pitfalls that you have overseen and it can be difficult to guarantee that your former spouse/partner will abide by it if it is not carefully drafted and ultimately made a Rule of Court. In addition, a solicitor can signpost whether you are entitled to a financial claim to include spousal maintenance or a share of your former spouse’s/partner’s assets or pension.
- Attending Court can be a daunting experience, especially when you are expected to give evidence. A solicitor can guide you through the Court process and be a familiar face in the Courtroom when providing your evidence.
However amicable your break-up has been, there may be some unforeseen circumstances you’ve not considered. At Harte Coyle Collins Solicitors we have extensive experience of representing clients through the divorce and any subsequent ancillary relief process. If you require any advice or assistance then please email one of our family and matrimonial lawyers at email@example.com or Sinead Ingram at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone the office on 02890 278227 to speak to someone personally.
HARTE COYLE COLLINS
SOLICITORS & ADVOCATES