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24 September 2012

DIY is for the home…not for divorces

When a relationship breaks down you are often faced with decisions surrounding several difficult issues.  These issues include arrangements for looking after any children and paying child maintenance; how assets, debts and property are to be divided; and how pensions and benefits are to be adjusted.  Naturally, many people will be conscious about finances during this uncertain and stressful time, and a “DIY” or online divorce, or one that is handled through a telephone call centre at a knock down price, may be appealing.

However, you should avoid falling into this potential trap as it can often be a false economy.  Some providers of DIY legal services are simply charging for access to court forms and guidance that is already freely available from the court itself.  Generally, DIY divorce services are marketed as being useful for uncontested divorce applications. 

You must consider your position should the divorce application be contested.  The one-off fee charged for these services does not normally provide access to immediate expert legal advice by a qualified solicitor, which you would undoubtedly need should you be in this situation.  There may also not be an option to meet locally and in private to discuss concerns.  Furthermore, as some of these service providers are not authorised or regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, options are very limited should there be a mistake or grievance.

Another, more practical consideration is that many of these services do not file the documents with the court on your behalf, unless an additional fee is paid.  Even upon payment of such fee, the forms will not necessarily be filed with a court that is local to you – instead the provider will file with a court most convenient to them.  In this scenario, should the divorce be successful and afterwards you want to file a consent order or a “clean break” with the court, then you will find yourself dealing with and possibly driving to a court that is nowhere near your home county.

As family law issues can be legally and financially complex, and personal by nature, most clients appreciate the support of a local dedicated solicitor who will provide direct access to good information, advice and support on these delicate matters.  A professional will discuss your options and the potential consequences of your decisions, particularly those affecting children, assets and finances.  Expert legal advice and representation that is local to you, such as that offered by Steeles Law, is essential to properly manage and mitigate the effects of family law matters.  The professionals at Steeles Law are empathetic and approachable and enjoy building a rapport with clients, and can offer emotional support, as well as practical support, where needed.

Our family team has been praised in the latest edition of the Legal 500, an independent guide to the legal profession, with clients commenting that the team “treats clients well and is excellent value”.  Head of team Amanda Owens is praised for being “incisive, with a delightful human touch” and Emma Alfieri as “thoughtful and grounded, and really puts clients at ease”.

To arrange an appointment either call on 01603 598000 or 01379 652141 or email family@steeleslaw.co.uk.

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