DIY divorce

DIY divorce in England – is it possible? The answer is, “Yes”. It is a general principle in English law that no person needs to employ a lawyer if he/she does not want to and anyone can represent themselves in court. This is true of divorce just as it is of any other legal proceedings.

If you want to conduct your own divorce it is easy to contact a local Family Court and obtain the necessary forms. And for some people this is a perfectly satisfactory option so long as you are aware that the court staff cannot give legal advice and if you choose to do this yourself then you must (a) take the time to learn how to do it and (b) if anything does go wrong then you have to accept the responsibility for it.

To that extent it is very like servicing your own car or doing your own plumbing. It can be done but it does take time to learn how to do it and if the job is bodged then there is no-one else to blame. The buck stops with you.

Before deciding to conduct a DIY divorce there are a number of things worth thinking about. Firstly, it is very difficult to be dispassionate when acting as a litigant in person. It is difficult to stand back from the facts and look at them objectively. People have a very natural tendency to see things from their own perspective and not to look at matters impartially. It is sometimes very difficult for a wife whose husband who has committed adultery, for instance, not to feel that she has been “wronged” and that the courts will recognise this ‘wrongdoing’ in any settlement. They will not. This very often spills over into naming ‘the other party’ in the divorce petition. In general that is not a good idea for various reasons but people do not usually realise that until they have made the mistake of doing so.

It is to obtain dispassionate advice that people go to lawyers and the importance of this should not be underestimated.

Be that as it may, it is still feasible for some people to do their own divorce if that is what they want and it is fair to say that many people do. They should, however, be aware of the following points because they are extremely important and often overlooked by DIY litigants.

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