Latest insights from our experts

Posted 13 June 2017
by Aimee Aspinall

Can I deal with my own divorce? The pitfalls of acting in person.

We are sometimes asked by prospective clients whether they can deal with their divorce on their own without any input from us as their legal advisers. The answer to this question is yes – you are not obliged to instruct a solicitor. There are however a number of issues which could arise if you do not seek appropriate legal advice, particularly if you have not done so in an effort to save on costs.

We have had a number of clients come to us as a result of difficulties that have arisen in relation to their divorce proceedings. There are sections in the divorce petition which if not completed correctly could have a financial consequences for you. The divorce petition is also worded with legally trained professionals in mind and it is important that you understand the documentation that you are completing.

The divorce issue fee is currently £550 and it is therefore crucial that matters are dealt with properly in the first instance. There are additional fees payable in the event that an issue arises and the petition requires amendment.

The main reason for an amended divorce petition being necessary is that the incorrect fact, i.e. basis of the divorce has been relied upon.

We have recently had an instance where a potential client chose to issue her own divorce petition and cited her husband’s adultery as the reason for the divorce. The parties had been separated for almost 5 years at the time she filed her divorce petition and whilst the initial reason for their separation was the husband’s extra marital affair, this was not the correct fact to rely on and has resulted in additional expense to her.

The correct approach would have been to either obtain her husband’s consent to a divorce based on their separation for a period exceeding two years, or wait for the 5 year period to have elapsed. Unfortunately, in this instance the potential client was charged an additional fee of £95 to file an amended petition and since commencing proceedings in March 2017 the divorce has not progressed. In this time the stage has now been reached where she and her husband have been separated for 5 years.

Other points that may not be considered in the first instance are jurisdictional aspects and costs. It is important to have expert advice at the outset to avoid common pitfalls in these areas.

The parties finances of the marriage can be quite a complex area, even if a couple’s assets are modest. There are a number of factors that need to be considered and steps that need to be followed and it is always recommended that advice is sought in relation to finances on divorce.

It is therefore not always the case that by not instructing a solicitor you will save yourself money or indeed time.

We offer a free initial assessment meeting where you will have the opportunity to meet with a member of our specialist family team to discuss your queries. To book a free meeting please call 01392 207020 or email

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About the author

Aimee Aspinall

Chartered Legal Executive

Chartered Legal Executive in the Exeter family team