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How To Know If You Need a Divorce Solicitor

Table Of Contents

    Do I need a solicitor for a divorce?

    Since the introduction of no-fault divorce in April 2022, many couples are now wondering whether they need a solicitor to get divorced.

    There are no legal obligations for either party to use a solicitor for a divorce, however, in complicated divorces that involve substantial matrimonial assets, both parties will often have a divorce lawyer representing them.

    But in straightforward divorce cases where the couple can reach an agreement, there will generally be no need for any solicitors to get involved, therefore a simple divorce online will be suitable for most couples.

    When should you use a divorce solicitor?

    If there are significant assets at stake and the divorcing parties cannot agree on how the matrimonial pot (i.e. shared assets) should be divided up, it will usually be advisable to instruct a solicitor for each side, especially if one party is in a much stronger financial position.

    Similarly, if the divorce is highly acrimonious and the spouses are not talking to one another then it will often be necessary for a trained family lawyer to step in.

    Also, if there are any children involved, this can make things more complicated and a family solicitor can help.

    A specialist divorce lawyer will not only be able to handle all the paperwork and explain the process, but they can engage in negotiations with the other spouse and their solicitors. 

    They will be able to provide advice on achieving the most beneficial outcome, spotting potential future problems, and implementing preventative solutions in a settlement.

    The main disadvantage of using a lawyer for divorce is the cost; solicitors’ fees can be disproportionately high in certain cases, especially if matters end up in court, and legal expenses can deplete the matrimonial pot.

    Furthermore, in more straightforward divorce scenarios, involving lawyers can serve to inflame matters and potentially create more complications.

    For more information on divorce costs, read our in-depth look at your options – How Much Does a Divorce Cost In The UK in 2023?

    When is a solicitor not necessary?

    It will not normally be necessary to obtain legal advice:

    • Where a couple does not have any significant shared assets in the case of an amicable break
    • A couple does not have any children together

    Even if the divorcing parties cannot agree on how to divide up the matrimonial pot, as long as they are still willing to engage in discussion, they may be able to resolve things via mediation.

    Getting a divorce without a solicitor will always be less expensive in the short term, as there are no lawyers’ fees to pay.

    Furthermore, many divorcing couples pride themselves on being able to resolve matters between themselves.

    However, getting a divorce without legal advice can prove costly in the long run.

    For example, an ex-spouse can claim future earnings (eg see the case of Wyatt v Vince, so it is important to include a ‘clean break’ clause in any divorce settlement to prevent this potential outcome.

    A divorce solicitor will be able to spot common pitfalls such as this and ensure the financial settlement is drawn up correctly to protect their client’s interests.

    How to get divorced without a solicitor

    The administrative process of divorce is fairly straightforward and essentially involves the following steps:

    1. Submit an application for a divorce – This is done either online or through the post. The application must be made by post (using form D8) if either party is using a solicitor.
    2. Acknowledgment of service – the other party must reply to the acknowledgment of service form which is sent out by the court. This will essentially state that they are happy with the reasons stated for divorce and that it will not be contested. If they intend to contest the divorce, this will normally require solicitors to get involved.
    3. Decree nisi – the court will consider the divorce application and, assuming everything is in order, will grant a decree nisi, which is an affirmation from the court that the divorce can proceed.
    4. Financial order – this essentially gives legal standing to any financial agreement. If either separating party applies to the court for a financial order, both themselves and their spouse (or civil partner) must fill out a separate Form E – one each.
    5. Decree absolute – the decree absolute is the legal document that officially ends a marriage. 

    Carrying out your own divorce can be rather time-consuming, stressful and the smallest mistakes can be costly.

    We have recognised this and have created a number of divorce services suited to your needs and budget, ensuring you receive your divorce in a quick, stress-free, and cost-effective manner!

    No-Fault Divorce Is Now Divorce Law

    The divorce law in England and Wales has changed to give way to a no-fault divorce. This means you no longer need to wait for a period of 2 years of separation or blame one party for the breakdown of your marriage. What’s more, it is no longer possible for your spouse to contest the divorce, allowing the divorce to proceed without friction or additional costs.

    Speak to our friendly team on Live Chat for quick and reliable answers to your questions or call us on 01793 384 029 for no obligation information and advice on how no-fault divorce works.

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