DIY Divorce - myBarrister family law specialist Joanna Toch
Commenting on DIY Divorces, family law specialist Joanna Toch
“It’s often forgotten by couples pursuing a divorce that a judge will be scrutinising all of their paperwork in order to be satisfied that the formal legal contract of marriage can be properly set aside. This means jumping through specific legal hoops and persuading the court it can dissolve the marriage and all the obligations associated with it.
“Getting the paperwork right is crucial to avoid stressful and lengthy delays, and I’ve seen a huge number of what should be entirely straightforward, undefended divorce cases held back for 18 months and longer because of errors in paperwork, with the court having to return documents several times.
“This is a big issue with DIY divorces as, although the paperwork has been simplified, these are still legal documents and it’s possible to see even highly capable company MDs trip up over wording, or fail to realise which boxes need to be ticked.
“There are clearly many very intelligent people out there who are understandably keen to keep costs down, but from my experience having access to specialist knowledge is a good investment which can ultimately save you time, money and unnecessary upset.
“Another crucial point to realise is that divorce and divorce finances – two entirely separate cases – run in tandem and affect the other. For example, generally, unless the finances are agreed upon, you won’t be granted a decree absolute and in turn, if your divorce case is held back, it will impact upon your being able to progress the division of assets as the court can’t make an order until there is a decree nisi. The knock-on impact for couples planning to move on with their lives is obvious.