The drawbacks of DIY Divorce

Heather Mills and Sir Paul McCartney's divorce case settled this week with an award of £24.3 million for the former Mrs McCartney. Heather Mills conducted her own case and initially asked for a settlement of £125 million claiming that she had made a significant contribution to Sir Paul's earnings during their time together.

The case illustrates some of the pitfalls of conducting your own divorce case without legal representation from a solicitor. Ms Mills was described as having 'over-egged the pudding', claiming a settlement that was too high and unjustified and failing to present the right evidence for her claims.

Divorce can be a financial catastrophe for many people and the temptation to save money on a DIY divorce is understandable but a decision to go it alone can end up costing more both emotionally and financially. Emotionally, representing yourself can prolong the bitterness and argument that many divorces cause. Financially, it can mean the loss of hundreds or thousands of pounds.

For example:

The value of pension funds can be underestimated and the technical difficulties of splitting pensions are best addressed by an expert.
Splitting your assets equally may not meet the husband and wife's individual needs properly - leaving one or other party struggling to cope.
Not providing the right evidence for the claim can damage the strength of your case in the eyes of the court.
The right legal advice and representation can overcome these problems and ensure that the settlement obtained is fair and provides for the needs of individuals and children. Appointing a solicitor who is a member of the Collaborative Family Law group can also help to remove some of the hostility and reduce fees by keeping matters out of court.

Ben Snedden, Family Law solicitor of local firm hc solicitors, commented
"Saving a few pennies on representation can seem a good option at the outset but seldom leads to the right and fair settlement at the end. Expert advice will help to identify the issues and the realistic options available and assist you to reach the best outcome in difficult circumstances".

Local firms, hc solicitors, Buckles and Hegarty's are all members of the Collaborative Law association and can help divorcing couples to reach agreements amicably outside the hostility often provoked in legal proceedings.

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.