Info & Advice

Is a DIY financial settlement the better option?

In most cases, but not always! There are two aspects to ending a marriage: ending the legal union and dividing a couple’s assets (e.g., money, property) fairly. The first is a purely bureaucratic process involving the completion and submission of a sequence of forms. It is relatively straightforward and can now be done entirely online. Most people do not require any help to finish this process and end their marriages.

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Dividing assets is a more complicated undertaking – but one that can still be done without legal assistance of any kind. You and your estranged spouse will need to discuss your bank accounts, property and belongings in detail, and reach an agreement on who gets what. You could leave it there. That’s certainly the cheapest option and one that may work for you – especially if your marriage was a relatively short one and you have no meaningful assets. But sometimes the cheapest option is a false economy.

DIY divorce

A do-it-yourself financial settlement is only the better option if the wealthier spouse is completely honest and transparent. The temptation to hide money and other assets or to mislead in other ways can be a strong one, especially if the marriage ended acrimoniously.

A DIY divorce settlement cannot be legally enforced. What if you discover, years down the line, that that you were misled about that the property sale or business buyout? Circumstances inevitably change. What if your ex begins a new relationship and suddenly decides to stop paying the maintenance payments they had previously agreed to? You would have no legal recourse.

This is all why we would always advise divorcing couples to turn their DIY settlement agreement into a binding legal agreement in a family court. These are known as ‘consent orders’ because the parties consent to them when signing.

A family solicitor can advise and guide you through this process. This is the not the budget option: those legal and court fees will need to be paid. But it will help to ensure your interests are fully protected.

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