Thursday, 24 May 2007

Warning over DIY divorce aid packs

Shropshire couples who opt for a cheap do-it-yourself divorce could find it costs them greatly in the long-run.

Nadia Davis, who heads the Family Law Team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, issued the warning after Tesco launched a divorce advice pack costing just £7.

“DIY divorces can work well for cases where there are no children or assets from the marriage involved, but they are generally not suitable for more complicated cases.

“And although on the face of it, the self-help package seems like a cheap option, it could cost couples dearly in the future.”

Nadia said many people did not realise that even when there has been a Decree Absolute, both partners still have the right to pursue financial claims arising from the marriage – and this process can continue until they get remarried or die.

“At Martin-Kaye, we are seeing increasing numbers of people who have dealt with their divorces themselves and who are now facing difficulties.

“They thought they had resolved their financial issues amicably with their spouse at the time of their separation, only to find themselves on the wrong end of a court application for financial support several years later.

“These clients are horrified to learn that their former spouse can seek further financial relief, no matter what was previously agreed.

“And even worse, the Court will consider their financial situation as it stands at the time of the new application, when their finances have often significantly improved.”

Nadia said with proper legal advice at the time of the separation, the couple could ask for a Clean Break Order to be made alongside their divorce, to ensure they were protected.

“This ensures any agreement reached is recorded and takes away the power of the former spouse to pursue further claims, which means both partners can get on with their lives.

“Ultimately, people stand to lose a lot more if they are ordered to pay their former spouse financial relief, and that cheap DIY divorce could end up being very expensive indeed.

“Professional advice at the time of the separation is the best way forward, and will help protect both parties in the future.”