Home Family & Relationship DIY Divorces Increasingly Rejected by Courts – Legal Comment Here

DIY Divorces Increasingly Rejected by Courts – Legal Comment Here

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Stowe Family Law has seen an increase in financial consent orders being rejected by the courts as people try to “DIY” their divorce on the cheap.

What has been coined “Divorce Day”, as we know, is when family law firms see a surge of enquiries after the Christmas holidays.

But, with the cost-of-living crisis (and financial strain of Christmas), coupled with the impact of no-fault divorce, many amicable couples are deciding to do a DIY divorce because they believe it will save them money. In a survey conducted by Stowe Family Law, 71% of respondents said they would consider a DIY divorce.

However, Stowe warns that they are seeing an increase in couples coming to them to redraft their consent orders (so much for “DIY”!)

What the couple is agreeing on and then putting in a consent order, which legally separates their finances, is being rejected by the court for reasons such as: they unfairly favour one party, or there has not been full financial disclosure.

In fact, many couples are not legally separating their finances at all, meaning their ex-spouse can come back to claim more money. According to the Family Court Statistics Quarterly from April to June 2022 (just as no-fault divorce was implemented), the number of financial orders was down by 31%, leaving individuals vulnerable to financial claims from their ex-spouse in the future.

Stowe Family Law can explain what they are seeing and provide helpful insight into the reasons why a consent order may be rejected. They can help unravel how a couple can successfully complete a DIY divorce while highlighting the importance of seeking legal advice to mitigate any risks.

Helen Hanson, senior associate at Stowe Family Law, says: “Following the introduction of no-fault divorce in April 2022, ending the need for separating couples to apportion blame for the breakdown of their marriage, there has been an increase in couples pursuing divorce proceedings without engaging the services of a specialist family lawyer.

“This has resulted in many separating couples also agreeing to the division of their assets in the absence of any legal guidance and then merely requesting their agreement be embodied into a consent order to be approved by the court, making it legally binding upon them.

“While it is an entirely reasonable step for couples to take to try to reach an agreement quickly and amicably between themselves to reduce time, legal costs, and stress, the couple should not be mistaken into thinking the court will simply “rubber stamp” their agreement.

“The judge, when considering the agreement the couple has reached, will have the power to ask questions and have complete discretion to refuse the agreement.

“A judge is likely to refuse the agreement if it does not appear to represent a fair and reasonable split of the marital assets or if the judge does not consider the parties have provided adequate financial disclosure.

“To avoid an agreement being refused by the judge, it would be sensible for both parties to seek independent legal advice from a family law specialist and engage in full financial disclosure.”

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