DIY (do-it-yourself) divorce or dissolution | MoneyHelper (2023)

What is a DIY divorce or dissolution?

This is where you and your ex-partner (husband, wife or civil partner) go through the divorce or dissolution process with little or no help from a solicitor.

It’s important to understand what’s meant by ‘divorce’ or ‘dissolution’, especially if you’re planning to do your own.

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
  • making arrangements for any children.

A divorce or dissolution means the legal process of ending a marriage or civil partnership that is legally recognised in the UK. There is a specific procedure to follow.

This is straightforward in most cases. Many people arrange their own divorce or dissolution with little or no legal advice.

But there can be problems. Most are to do with dividing up the family’s finances.

Working out 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 and your husband, wife or partner will need to consider.

It might be helpful to have at least one safety check meeting with a specialist family lawyer. This will help you understand your rights and the full effects of any agreements and decisions you make. It will also make sure that any agreement is legally binding.

In England and Wales

If you haven’t covered all the issues – or if you leave financial claims outstanding – there can be problems later. This can disrupt your lives years after the divorce or dissolution was finalised.

This is because getting a divorce or dissolution doesn’t end your ability to make a financial claim against your ex (or them against you). There’s also no time limit for making a financial claim.

It’s essential to make sure you have a binding court order setting out what the financial arrangements are. Even if the court order confirms neither of you want to make a claim against the other.

In Scotland

The law is different. You can’t make a claim for financial provision after you’ve divorced.

It’s important to get advice from a family law specialist at the start to make sure you don’t lose this right.

In Northern Ireland

The obligation to maintain a dependent spouse continues after divorce, even where no maintenance order was made at that time. The obligation of spousal maintenance only ends on the death or remarriage of the receiving spouse.

Although a court is unlikely to impose a maintenance payment where a dependent spouse is cohabiting with a new partner in circumstances similar to that of husband and wife.

A DIY divorce or dissolution can’t take less than six weeks to complete from when the legal processes start.

This is the law in England and Wales. And it’s unlikely to take less time in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

A financial settlement could be agreed within months. This depends on how complicated your financial situation is, and what process you use to sort it out.

But financial proceedings through the courts can often take a long time – especially in England and Wales.

It might take anything from nine months to two years to sort out the finances if you and your ex-partner can’t agree.

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DIY divorce or dissolution in England, Wales or Northern Ireland

Anyone can opt for a DIY divorce or dissolution, but that doesn’t mean it’s suitable for everyone.

As a guide, you might be able to sort out your divorce or dissolution and your finances yourself if:

  • you don’t have children or are able to sort out child arrangements
  • you’ve both lived in the same part of the UK for at least a year
  • you’re able to discuss or negotiate how you’ll divide what you own and what you owe.

If you’re in agreement on getting a divorce or dissolution you will need to have been married:

  • in England and Wales for over one year
  • in Northern Ireland over two years and two years of living apart.

If you’re not in agreement on getting a divorce or dissolution you will need to have been married:

  • in England and Wales for over one year
  • in Northern Ireland over five years and five years of living apart

DIY divorce or dissolution might not be a good idea if you and your ex-partner have:

  • children under 18
  • a valuable home
  • business
  • pension(s)
  • complicated finances.

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Simplified (do-it-yourself) divorce or dissolution in Scotland

The ‘simplified’ (do-it-yourself) divorce or dissolution procedure isn’t suitable for everyone. For example, you can’t use it if you have young children.

As a guide, you’re likely to be able to sort out your divorce or dissolution yourself if:

  • there are no children under the age of 16
  • you’ve been separated for at least a year and both of you agree to the divorce or dissolution, or you’re not in agreement and have been living apart for at least two years
  • you’re not involved in any other court case that could end your marriage or civil partnership
  • neither of you has any mental illness or health problem that means you can’t make decisions about your money
  • you agree how to split your property and possessions, and aren’t making a financial claim against each other.

It’s best not to use the ‘simplified’ procedure if you plan to make a claim against your ex-partner for a share of his or her assets, or for regular payments.

If you’re not sure how to split your finances, it’s worth getting legal advice before using the ‘simplified’ procedure. Or, follow the ‘ordinary’ divorce or dissolution procedure.

Once you’re divorced, you can’t bring a claim for a share of your ex-partner's assets.

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Completing and submitting the forms yourself

If you want to, you can get, fill in and send in the court forms yourself.

This will be the cheapest option as you only have to pay the court fees. If you’re on a low income, you might get money off your fees.

DIY (do-it-yourself) divorce or dissolution | MoneyHelper (1)

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Find out more on the GOV.UK website

In England or Wales

You can apply for a divorce on the GOV.UK website (Opens in a new window)

In Northern Ireland

Even if you choose a DIY divorce or dissolution, you have to appear before a judge as a ‘personal petitioner’ in either a county court or a High Court.

You can download the forms to prepare for this from theNorthern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service website

When it comes to filling out the divorce forms, you can arrange an interview with the Matrimonial Office of the Royal Courts of Justice. Their staff can check that you’ve filled in your forms correctly - bear in mind that they can’t offer legal advice. There is a small fee for this service.

DIY (do-it-yourself) divorce or dissolution | MoneyHelper (5)

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Find out more on the nidirect website

The rules for divorce in Northern Ireland are very similar to those in England, Scotland and Wales. But the most obvious difference is that a couple can’t petition within the first two years of the marriage. (In England and Wales, it’s one year. And there’s no time limit in in Scotland.)

In Scotland

There’s more information about the ‘simplified’ (do-it-yourself) procedure on the Scottish Courts website

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Using an online DIY divorce or dissolution service

Some companies offer divorce or dissolution services online (although they’re rare in Northern Ireland).

These packages vary in price and offer different levels of help. It’s always worth checking what’s included. Most will simply help you with the divorce or dissolution paperwork – but not with reaching a financial settlement.

Many high street solicitors now also offer a fixed fee for a divorce or dissolution. They’ll also offer fixed or capped fees to help sort out the finances.

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If you don’t get any legal advice, you and your ex-partner might agree to split your finances in a way that’s unfair to one partner, or hard for one of both of you to stick to. And this might not be obvious at the time you separate.

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Your next step

DIY (do-it-yourself) divorce or dissolution | MoneyHelper (13)

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Consider what’s best for your circumstances. It might be helpful to read ourguide Your options for legal or financial advice on divorce or dissolution

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Can I file for divorce by myself in GA? ›

Filing for Divorce Without an Attorney

If you and your spouse are in complete agreement regarding custody and asset division, you don't need a lawyer to get a divorce.

How do I get a divorce in NC without waiting a year? ›

How do you get a divorce in NC without waiting a year? The state of North Carolina requires couples to have been separated for one year before getting a divorce. While there can be exceptions to this requirement based on extenuating circumstances, there is no way to avoid this one year waiting period.

What forms do I need to file for divorce in Alabama? ›

The basic forms are the divorce complaint, marital settlement agreement, testimony of plaintiff (affidavit), affidavit of residency, child support information sheet (CS-47), and the vital statistics form. You must file the uncontested divorce documents with the clerk of the court and pay a filing fee.

How do I file for divorce for free in PA? ›

Divorce Filing Fees in Pennsylvania

If you can't afford to pay the filing fees, you can ask the judge to waive the fees. You can request a fee waiver by filing a Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. If the court grants your request to waive fees, you won't have to pay any court costs during your divorce.

Can you get a divorce without a lawyer in GA? ›

In Georgia, you are not required to be represented by a lawyer in a divorce action. When a party does not have an attorney and they represent themselves, the party is referred to as "pro se".

Is there a 30 day divorce in Georgia? ›

After you file your papers, your spouse has 30 days (if your spouse lives in Georgia), 60 days (if your spouse lives outside of Georgia, but in the United States), or 90 days (if your spouse lives outside the United States) to respond to your request for divorce (known as a Complaint.

Where can you get the quickest divorce? ›

Alaska is notoriously fast at finalizing a divorce. Alaska, Nevada, and South Dakota can usually finalize a divorce in just under two months.

How much does it cost to file for uncontested divorce in North Carolina? ›

In North Carolina, the cost of filing for an absolute, or simple divorce, is $225. This does not include serving the other party with papers, which is $30, and, if you choose to return to your maiden name, this is an additional $10 fee.

What is the 30 day waiver for divorce in NC? ›

You can sign a 30-day waiver if you and your partner agree to the divorce and agree to settlement terms. Settlement terms include such things as the distribution of property, child custody, and more. The first divorce hearing is usually held about one to two weeks after the end of the 30-day waiting period.

What is the easiest state to file for divorce? ›

What Are the Easiest States to Get a Divorce?
  • Nevada. Known as the “divorce capital of the world,” Nevada has some of the most straightforward and lenient divorce laws in the United States. ...
  • Alaska. Alaska is another state that has a relatively straightforward divorce process. ...
  • South Dakota. ...
  • Wyoming. ...
  • New Hampshire. ...
  • Mississippi.
Apr 24, 2023

Can you date while separated in Alabama? ›

There's no law in Alabama prohibiting someone from entering a dating relationship while going through divorce. This does not, however, necessarily mean it is a good idea. Many people have found the potential personal and legal ramifications of doing so simply not worth it.

Is Alabama a no fault state for divorce? ›

Alabama is a no-fault divorce state. In fact, these are the grounds used in most divorces in the state. While divorcing couples can file for a fault-based split, they must prove one of the grounds and ask a judge to grant the divorce.

Does my husband have to pay the bills until we are divorced? ›

While a divorce will ultimately result in the division of all of a couple's debts and assets, until the finalization of that divorce occurs, both parties can still be held responsible for defaulting on payments. Still, it's a good idea to go over how bills will be paid during this transitional time.

What to do legally when your wife leaves you? ›

If your spouse has abandoned you, you have the right to seek a legal separation order known as a divorce from bed and board. Despite the name, this order does not end your marriage. It could entitle you to certain benefits of a divorce, such as alimony, child custody, and child support.

What happens after 90 day waiting period for divorce in PA? ›

Divorce Code

Affidavit of Consent: After ninety (90) days have passed from the date the Complaint was served upon your spouse, you may file an Affidavit of Consent, declaring that you consent to the divorce. The Affidavit of Consent must be filed within thirty (30) days after it is signed and dated.

Can you get a divorce without the other person signing in Georgia? ›

A short answer is that — in Georgia — as long as you have filed in the proper jurisdiction, to the correct court, with the appropriate papers, and did perfect service of process, you can obtain a divorce without your spouse's cooperation.

How can I get a quick divorce in Georgia? ›

With an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse agree on key issues and avoid the need for a prolonged trial. If you can agree on issues quickly, you may be able to get your divorce completed after a waiting period of just 31 days from the time your spouse is served with divorce papers.

How do I file for a simple divorce in Georgia? ›

Visit the Clerk's Office of the Superior Court to begin divorce proceedings. File for divorce with your county's Clerk of the Superior Court. You must file for divorce with the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county where you or your spouse have lived for at least 6 months.

How much does it cost to file for divorce in GA? ›

Generally, the cost to file a Complaint for Divorce in Georgia ranges from $200.00 to $220.00. This fee must be paid to the Clerk of Superior Court in the county where the divorce case is initiated. In addition to this fee, a service fee must also be paid.

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