DIY Divorce: What Does It Really Mean?


18 February 2020

By Farhad Islam

What you need to know about 'DIY Divorce' from our Family Law solicitor Filomena Sterkaj…

There are many misconceptions about online divorce.

I am often asked by clients whether a Solicitor is mandatory in their case or, can they just go ahead and do the divorce themselves, often referred to as a "DIY divorce".

In England and Wales the government has launched an online platform to make the divorce process "easier" by applying online rather than submitting the usual paper application, although paper applications are still being accepted. With the exception of making the divorce process more accessible via the online platform, nothing else has changed.

There is no such thing as a "quick divorce". The timescale for a divorce to be processed can really depend on the court's availability and efficiency in processing applications, whether online or in paper form. In reality, even a swift divorce or dissolution could take between four to six months.

It is important to know what is meant by "divorce" or "dissolution", especially if you are looking to do your own divorce or dissolution.

Divorce or dissolution is often used as a general term to mean everything to do with a relationship breaking down.

This includes formally ending the marriage or civil partnership, dividing the family's finances and even making arrangements for any children. However, this is not correct because a divorce or dissolution simply means the legal process of formally ending a marriage or civil partnership. Finances are dealt with independently of the divorce or dissolution process, as are arrangements for the children.

Negotiating your own financial agreement, with or without professional support, can seem the cheapest and easiest way to a settlement. But, it can be complex and there are many things you will need to consider. It is therefore essential to seek legal advice so that you can understand your rights and the full implications of any agreements and decisions you make. The correct legal advice also ensures that any agreement you reach is legally binding.

In short, yes, you can deal with divorce online yourself, but…

It is paramount that you obtain legal advice in respect of any financial settlement and the implications of not resolving finances at the same time as obtaining a divorce.

Within your divorce application you will need to understand how to demonstrate the fact you are seeking to rely on to prove that your marriage has 'irretrievably broken down'.

You need to be extremely careful that the online divorce platform is in fact via the government website and not any other website. There are many websites claiming to deal with your divorce at a "low cost" but be sure to read your T&Cs before agreeing to anything or even making payment.

All of our family lawyers are members of Resolution and will be happy to assist you with any Family Law issues. For a free initial consultation please telephone on 01245 228106 or email 

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.