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Divorce: Do I need legal representation?


Litigants in Person

It’s very rare for someone to actively want to be involved in legal proceedings, but unfortunately, they’re a part of life and are sometimes necessary. For example, if you wish to get divorced, there may be a legal dispute, as a marriage is legally binding and you may not be in agreement.

Nowadays, it is fairly common to see people who are involved in legal disputes (such as divorce) to choose to deal with the matters themselves, without legal representation or advice, and attend their own court hearings. These people are known as Litigants in Person (‘LIP’).

Whilst there is nothing stopping anyone from tackling their own divorce process, we would encourage you to first and foremost seek legal advice from a solicitor or legal executive. The government has recognised the rise in LIPs and is doing their utmost to provide advice and assistance – but still, the law in England is complicated, and if not understood properly people can run into unexpected problems in the future.

What problems could arise in the future?

In the event of a marriage breakdown, people often turn to a quick internet search to understand the divorce process, stumble upon online divorce, and then proceed to share out their assets with very little thought – this is known as a “DIY divorce”. People are also often emotional at the time they decide on a divorce or separation, and one partner can end up with a much better deal than the other.

The risk here, aside from one partner getting a better deal, is what would happen if several years down the line your former spouse decides that they wish to make a financial claim against you. If financial claims are not closed at the time of the divorce, then this could happen, and this area is often overlooked by people who don’t have the legal knowledge required to support themselves fully through the divorce proceedings.

As another example, lots of people nearing retirement age who get divorced without legal guidance overlook their pensions. If this is the case, you might then find that you can’t retire as you don’t have any financial provisions, whilst your ex-spouse managed to retire early and is now exploring the world on a luxury cruise, using the pension they accrued during the marriage. In this case, you could have been entitled to some of your partner’s pension at the time of separation.

Due to each family lifestyle being so different, obtaining the correct information from an internet search is unlikely. Lawyers are there to not just look at the present day, but also the future and will ensure that you are provided for as best as can be, and that the outcome of the divorce is one of fairness. They can also advise you on how best to avoid future claims being made against you or how to ensure claims remain open if there is a need for them to be.

How can we help?

If you don’t know very much about family law, or don’t understand any particular terms, or are worried about the impact of a relationship breakdown or arrangements for your children, we can help. You do not have to deal with this alone; instead, we can help guide you down the right path. We offer a wide range of fixed fee packages, clear up-front estimates, and free half hour advice sessions – we try our best to tailor our feeds in a way that best suits you and your circumstances.

About the author:

Emma Cole is a Chartered Legal Executive in our Family Department. She is based at the Chandlers Ford office where she can be contacted on 02380 278719 or by email: emma.cole@ericrobinson.co.uk