Wiltshire law firm's finance warning over DIY divorces

By Barrie Hudson - 16 November 2023

  • Bevirs Law family team members, from left: l-r: Natalee Worthington, Michelle Bowyer and Ellie Chivers

    Bevirs Law family team members, from left: l-r: Natalee Worthington, Michelle Bowyer and Ellie Chivers

Divorcing couples are being warned to ensure they take out a clean break order or they may face expensive repercussions later.

The warning comes from the family team at Bevirs Law, which has branches in Swindon, Royal Wootton Bassett and Calne.

They say that since divorce rules changed last year, many couple are failing to finalise financial arrangements and facing difficulties further down the line.

“The spring of 2022 saw the dawn of a more peaceful way to end a marriage with the universally welcomed removal of finding fault from the statute books,” said Michelle Bowyer, Associate Solicitor at Bevirs. 

“Since then, couples have been able to obtain a divorce by merely citing that their marriage has irretrievably broken down, without the need to provide the reasons for the breakdown. 

"This offered a monumental shift in matrimonial legislation and was welcomed by us all who have spent many years managing the emotional and financial fall out of one party being forced to take the blame for their marriage failing.”

However, Michelle said simplifying the rules meant it was no longer necessary to use a solicitor. Those opting for a DIY divorce, without taking any advice, are all too often failing to obtain the all-important clean break order.

This failure to sever financial ties leaves both ex-husband and ex-wife at risk of future financial claims being pursued against them. It could also mean they are failing to recover assets that they would otherwise be entitled to.

Bevirs Law had a case in which the client had divorced his wife but did not obtain a clean break order. He had received no legal advice at the time of the divorce. 

Some five years after his divorce, he was made redundant and received a lump sum of £100,000. His ex-wife issued an application to the court and was ultimately awarded £18,000, in addition to which the client had accrued legal fees.  This could not have happened had he secured a clean break order. 

Recent research from the Nuffield Foundation revealed only two in five people obtained legal advice during their divorce; only a third of couples finalise their finances by obtaining a clean break order; and a pension sharing order is included in only 10 percent of divorces.

Michelle said: “Parties to a divorce who do not obtain a financial order at point of divorce are not only exposing themselves to the risk of a future claim against their assets but may be missing out on securing a share of the assets, including by way of pension sharing order.”

The family team at Bevirs Law offer a fixed fee initial interview, at which they are likely to recommend a DIY divorce but will offer analysis of the matrimonial finances and advise on any financial consequences of the marriage breakdown. 

More information can be found at www.bevirs-law.co.uk

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