DIY Divorce: is this a good idea?

7 February, 2019


Welcome to a new era! In March 2018, the UK government launched a £1bn project to update the national court system. One of its key reforms was to make divorce applications more accessible in the hope of keeping legal costs to a minimum.  Divorce is finally available online and just a simple click away.

The good news is that applying online is relatively easy. All you need is a reason behind your decision to separate, the address of your spouse and a court fee of £550 (unless you qualify for an exemption). Your application is tracked online and there is no risk that it will get lost in the post. The online form has been said to be very easy to complete even if you are not a legal expert. This could potentially reduce the need to instruct expensive lawyers whilst saving you money. It almost seems too good to be true.

Unfortunately, not all that glitters is gold.

  • Success rate. The court has reported that 40% of the online applications have been rejected due to mistakes in the form. The procedure can take longer than expected, causing significant delays in the proceedings and unnecessary stress.
  • The narrative. When you file for divorce in the UK, you are asked to rely on one of the five facts to support your ground for your separation. These are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, 2-year separation, desertion and 5-year separation. All of them require some sort of narrative. In particular, for adultery and unreasonable behaviour – the most popular facts among applicants – you will be asked to provide examples of your spouse’s behaviour throughout the marriage that has led you to believe that you can no longer be expected to be living together. This narrative section of the form can be quite challenging to write on your own because it requires some level of legal knowledge. The danger is that if you do not get it right your application may be rejected, which will lead to further delays.
  • Remember! A divorce application is not the end but just the beginning. Getting a divorce does not cut your ties with your spouse because you are still left with the important issues to discuss: financial and children arrangements remain unresolved. Even if you are divorced, you and your spouse may still be entitled to make a claim against each other and one of you will need to initiate court proceedings to finalise the separation. For these reasons, you will still require lawyers that can assist and support you along the way. This is an emotional and stressful time and you should get all the help you can to achieve the best possible outcome.

At Cripps Pemberton Greenish, we have an experienced and dedicated team to advise you on all aspects of your separation.  Should you require any assistance in respect of your own circumstances, or in connection with this article, please do not hesitate to contact Claire Tollefson by email or phone  to or 1892 506 191.