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Beware the DIY Divorce

Marriage certificate being cut in half with orange handled scissors

We are now several months into the new divorce procedure brought about by The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 in April this year.  It is pretty easy! You go on the HMCTS Online Portal, input your details, upload your marriage certificate, pay your fee, press the convenient green electronic button and off you go.

The magical internet dissolves your marriage.

Of course, there is a bit more to it than that but this process is now so convenient and simple that it is easy to forget that divorce is a serious legal procedure. I am finding that clients are initially forgetting that there are other matters to sort out. After a marriage is dissolved, there are many other legal matters to consider.

It is so important to understand your legal position.

BEWARE the DIY divorce and remember the following:-

1. You need a Clean Break

The Final Dissolution Order (formerly Decree Absolute) ends your marriage. However, it does NOT sever the financial ties between you. Financial claims can still be made against you, even if many years have passed. A lovely lottery win, an inheritance or a property boom increasing the equity in your home is fair game to your ex. They can come back. The very best way to prevent this is to agree and file Clean Break Financial Order at the time you divorce.

2. Review your Will

Please remember to review your Will as soon as possible. Your spouse will remain your next of kin until the Final Dissolution Order (formerly Decree Absolute). This means they could inherit assets in your name and, if you jointly own property with them, they are likely to inherit that property too. You may not mind about this but, if they did inherit and then remarried later and forgot to make their own Will, their new spouse would inherit that home. This could mean your children lose what you feel should be their inheritance. This worst-case scenario can be avoided simply and easily by ensuring you seek legal advice.

3. Re-marrying will prevent the Court making a financial award in your favour if you are the Respondent

It is vital to know that if you re-marry without a financial order, you may lose your right to apply for one. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 is uniquely designed to focus on fairness. Therefore, if you feel you have a claim over a property or asset, ensure you get legal advice as early as possible and especially of you are thinking of getting married again. Pension claims can still be made after re-marriage. However, this could be problematic if the main asset is the house.

Get in touch

Rebecca Baker

If you would like advice or help avoiding any of these common mistakes, or have any other family law issues, please do contact me on 01924 291122 or email me at

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Rachel SteadRachel Stead
13:19 26 Nov 23
Can’t recommend Catteralls enough. Eleanor, Claire and her team have just helped us with a recent house sale. They were quick and efficient with responses. Even with me ringing and emailing plenty (very annoying) but nothing was too much for them. They did all things on our side promptly and kept us in the loop at all times. Will be recommending them and using again in future if needed.Thanks so much.Rachel and Harry.
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17:20 04 Nov 23
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07:30 16 Oct 23
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Allison RobinsonAllison Robinson
13:53 02 Oct 23
We used Catterall's for the sale of a property and had excellent service throughout. Everything was done promptly, efficiently and accurately. We had experienced lots of errors with a previous firm and saw a marked contrast in the quality of service and professionalism from Catteralls. Danielle and Sue were knowledgable and helpful and were able to answer questions about the errors from the purchase of the property with a different firm so that we could move forwards quickly with the sale. Prices were reasonable and competitive but I would choose the firm again regardless of price because of the experience. It is the second time we have used the firm (previously for a different purchase) and I can highly recommend them.
08:59 17 Sep 23
My wife and I engaged Catteralls Solicitors conveyancing services to both sell our old house and to buy our new house. We can thoroughly recommend their services in this regard. In particular we would like to give excellent feedback to Ms Eleanor Parkin, our Conveyancing Executive at Catteralls, who dealt with us throughout the buying and selling process. Some aspects of that process became problematic but Eleanor went above and beyond that which was expected of her and ensured that any problems were resolved effectively and efficiently to ensure a smooth completion. Our engagement with her was always friendly and professional and we would be happy to recommend her professional services to others. Thank you, Eleanor!
Caroline WilsonCaroline Wilson
13:13 25 Jul 23
Thank you Catteralls for helping us with our recent house sale!! I will certainly recommend you to family and friends.Catteralls would be the first solicitor I came to if I needed any help in the future! Thanks again for everything. Fantastic communication, making a hard time in our lives that much easier. I can not fault a thing.☺️
22:51 17 Jun 23
I've used these for the sale of a rental property and my will and am also currently using them for a purchase of a residential property. Used them because my usual solicitors let me down. I can't comment on price because I didn't really shop around. A family member recommended them, and they've been good for me so far. Here, I've never felt like I haven't been able to speak to someone when I've needed to and they've always been on hand to explain anything I didn't understand. So far so good.
Kevin SlatteryKevin Slattery
09:53 08 Jun 23
Jenny and her team, saved the day after our sale and purchase almost fell through due to the poor performance of our previous solicitor. She was responsive, highly efficient and keep us informed throughout the whole process. We would only use Catteralls for any future conveyancing requirements. Many thanks Jenny, Sarah and the rest of the team!
14:24 09 Mar 23
Jess looked after my case. It was most helpful in that I was able to do everything via email, so all I had to do on the day was sign some paperwork, therefore only needing to make the one visit, which was perfect for me.Jess was efficient & organised and made the process a smooth one.Thanks Jess I appreciate all you did for me. 🙂
Aneka RandallAneka Randall
17:04 09 Dec 22
Paul and his team have worked on our sale and purchase. The team have all worked extremely hard, going above an beyond. Everyone in the chain has commented how efficient they have been. I will certainly recommend to family and friends and would be the first solicitor I came to if I needed any help in the future! Thanks again.
Jade NuttJade Nutt
20:07 02 Nov 22
Jenny and her team were brilliant with our house sale and purchase. They answered all our queries, made sure we understood everything and kept things moving along. We are very great full for your hard work! Thank you!