Last week we looked at how you could get a free divorce by managing your divorce yourself. All divorces in England and Wales incur a £593 court fee unless you are on a low income. This would be the only fee you would pay if you decided to file for divorce using GOV.UK website. But a DIY divorce means you will have to manage your case yourself, which may cost you more than you think.
The time cost of a DIY divorce
Been trying to phone for three days… waiting each time over 50 minutes… have literally wasted two working days of my life.
Google Review of the Divorce Centre
You must go through a process to get a divorce, and your divorce case won’t move forward until all activities are complete in each step. Adding further complexity, the activity could be something you need to do or your spouse or the court, and there are long waiting periods between steps. For a walkthrough of the process, read this article.
The court issue standard letters at fixed points throughout the process. This is fine if your divorce runs smoothly, but not if something goes wrong.
I always describe the divorce process through the courts as a slow-moving cargo ship. It moves at a slow but steady speed and gets you from A to B if you stay on track. But if something goes wrong, its sheer size means it a long time to realise something has gone wrong and even longer to change direction, fix the problem and get back on course.
In most cases, you become alerted to a problem because many weeks have passed. You have no idea if your divorce is progressing or delayed. You don’t know if the delay is because of something that you’ve done or something that your ex has done (or not done), and you don’t know if your ex is deliberately trying to frustrate the process and prevent your divorce from going ahead.
In this situation, you can wait or call 0300 303 0642 to speak to the court. You may have to call them several times throughout the process because there are such long windows of inactivity, which all adds up to a lot of wasted time you could be spending on better things.
The frustration of DIY divorce
I have e-mailed this court 30 times, I have rang them over 50 times, I have been there once to get an answer and still I’ve zero correspondence! Can someone get back to me!
Google Review of the Divorce Centre
Every day we get phone calls and emails from people managing their own divorce who want to speak to the court. Sometimes it’s by mistake, and they think we are the court. Sometimes it’s out of sheer desperation because they can’t get through to the court, or they can’t get a satisfactory answer.
As you can imagine, most people in this situation are highly frustrated and, I have to admit, often rude.
But the problem here, in most cases, isn’t the courts. The problem is one of expectations.
In the same way you can tax your car or apply for a passport, the government have given you the ability to divorce online using the GOV.UK website. It is a transactional service that works perfectly well for couples who are completely on the same page over the decision to divorce, the reasons behind it, their finances, and their children.
But divorce isn’t a purely functional, transactional activity for many people. It’s loaded with emotion and concern, which creates difficulties for the divorce service because they only provide a transactional service, but people expect more. The people who answer the phones are customer service, not legal advisors.
They have a few basic details about you, your ex and your marriage. With a no-fault divorce, they don’t know the background of your relationship and why your marriage broke down. They don’t know that you are particularly anxious because you were in an abusive relationship or that you’ve got a house sale going through and you need to get your divorce resolved as quickly as possible.
The worry and stress of DIY Divorce
Started divorce over a year ago and haven’t even got to decree nisi… they don’t answer phone or email. My life is in limbo. I’ve been separated for 4 years and would like to restart my life.
Google Review of the Divorce Centre
The divorce court’s customer service team don’t have the tools or ability to deal with your personal issues. The truth is when you do a DIY divorce using GOV.UK, you go into a system, and your case is processed in a sequence. The customer care team can’t prioritise your case or help you can jump the queue.
They are trying to do their best to give you the best possible service. It’s just that your expectations of what they should be doing and what they can do are often not matched. Returning to the comparison with renewing your car tax online, this works perfectly because there are a few steps you can’t deviate from, which gives people what they want and expect every time almost instantaneously.
Divorce, however, is a lot more complicated. There are many moving parts, and it doesn’t give you what you want instantaneously or sometimes at all if something goes wrong.
Have you ever been so worried that you actually felt physically sick? That’s what highly emotive situations like divorce can do to you. When you want something so much but face an obstacle you don’t know how to deal with, or even worse, when you don’t know what is going on, your mind starts making up terrifying scenarios.
Not only does this stress cost your health and wellbeing, it also has a knock-on effect on other parts of your life. We don’t deal with situations as well when we are stressed. What is the cost of getting frustrated with your children, your boss or that nitwit who has just cut you up on the road?
The true cost of DIY divorce
“Nothing in life is free, you always pay in the end” goes the quote. And I’m inclined to agree. There’s a cost to everything. When it comes to doing your divorcing yourself on the government website, it’s free in that you don’t pay for the service (the court fee of £593 is to pay for the courts and staff, not to manage your divorce), but it has got a cost in terms of you having to deal with it and manage it. Money isn’t the most valuable resource we have – time is. Money comes and goes, but time, that hour you’ve just spent waiting to talk to the court has gone forever. You’re never going to get that back again.
The second most valuable thing we have is our health. We can’t fully enjoy our time on this planet (or money for that matter) if we are in poor physical or mental health.
DIY divorce through Gov.uk is perfect for couples in agreement who are organised and have the time and patience to work through each stage of divorce. Having a laid-back personality and being able to trust the process is helpful too because this will reduce your need to call the court or worry about the progress of your proceedings.
What can I do if I don’t want a DIY divorce?
If you don’t have the time to do your own divorce, or you don’t want the stress or hassle, our fully managed divorce service will take that pain away from you. Our experience tells us when something isn’t right, so we proactively deal with the court rather than you having to wait for months for the court to notify you of a problem.
Our focus is to complete your divorce as quickly as possible, and pride ourselves on responding to court requests within 24 hours to move your divorce along. We are very conscious of the significance of your divorce, and we don’t take divorce lightly. Often we work outside of normal office hours, especially when we receive a notification that a divorce has been finalised on a Friday evening because we know this is news our clients love to hear going into the weekend.
We know what divorce means to you and how it makes you feel, especially when it’s over. And that’s the service we provide. We don’t just process your divorce for you. We save you time and hassle, and are the reassuring voice when you are worried that something is not right. You get your answers very, very, quickly. You can reach our customer service team in seconds, not hours so that you can stop worrying about your divorce and start enjoying your life.