I was asked to make a comment to the Independent on Sunday in relation to the fact that increasing numbers of people are seeking to resolve matrimonial issues themselves. I attach below the link to the Independent on Sunday in which I was quoted in their article "Take the DIY approach to the end of the affair"
A full copy of my comment is set out below
In these times we are often faced with clients who wish to deal with their own divorce. This is largely to save fees but also in order to keep solicitors out of the picture as it is perceived that to involve a lawyer in a divorce is a sure fire way to ratchet up the pressure, the time it takes to get resolved, and therefore to increase the costs.
Where a couple have a good level of communication and there are no complex assets to resolve, a DIY divorce can indeed be beneficial. It only works however, where both parties are fully aware of their respective financial positions and there is a considerable measure of trust between the two. This is essential if the divorce be finalised but also the related discussions concerning the division of money can take place on a level playing field.
The divorce process itself is largely administrative and, if there is no objection to the divorce in principal, the necessary documents can be drawn up and the process undertaken with the assistance of the court staff who are usually fairly helpful. If however, there is an argument as to who should start the proceedings, the fact of divorce which is to be alleged, or who is to pay the costs of the proceedings, legal advice ought to be sought from a specialist solicitor.
The area of division of matrimonial assets is increasing complex and in the main, solicitors who offer this advice specialise in this area alone. It is vital to at least take some legal advice to explore what options are available to divorcing couples in particular where there are financial assets or indeed significant debts to resolve. There is a many a client who is unaware that there are alternatives to resolving matters in the "traditional" way and that these can be an extremely cost effect way of dealing with your divorce without going anywhere near a courtroom, collaborative law and mediation to name a couple. [more information can be provided about this is necessary].
There are circumstances where failing to seek legal advice can be downright dangerous, particularly where one party is concerned that their spouse is hiding or transfer money away; or where they are ignorant about their family finances; where there is a family business or the spouse has business interests. Very often, a pension is the second or even largest matrimonial asset, especially after a long marriage and this is an asset to be shared. Specialist knowledge is required to not only advise as to each spouses position regarding the pension but also in order to divide the pension assets fairly.
It is very often the case that clients can end up spending more money in having to sort out matters that have gone wrong because they did not take legal advice than they would have spent in instructing a specialist in the first place. The specialist family solicitor will present your case the most effective way, having knowledge of both the law and the practicalities and methods that can be utilised to maximum advantage whatever the nature of the case.
Rachel Spencer Robb, an Associate Solicitor of Clarion is a Resolution Accredited Specialist and a member of the SRA Family Law Panel. Contact 0113 336 3349 for more information.
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