Divorcing without a solicitor

27th April 2022


by Rebecca Woodley, Solicitor, Senior Associate, Family Law Department

“If we have both agreed to ‘fairly’ split the house 50/50 upon divorce, then why do we need to pay for a solicitor?” Rebecca Woodley, family law specialist at Fraser Dawbarns discusses a divorce case where the wife ended up being significantly worse off than the husband because they both did not seek legal advice when splitting their assets.

The parties separate amicably. The husband works full time, whereas the wife works part time and cares for their children. Both parties agree that it is only fair for the house to be sold with the net proceeds being split equally. The husband has a much better income than the wife and therefore he can raise a mortgage. When the marital home is sold, he buys another property. However, the wife cannot raise a mortgage on her own and moves into rented accommodation. She loses any means tested benefits that she may be entitled to because she has a lump sum in the bank from the house sale. She has no choice but to supplement her income from her lump sum, which gradually disappears. The husband ends up significantly better off than the wife as he owns his property, and she has no assets. The husband has a pension, but the wife has not taken legal advice and she has no or very limited pension provision.

As the parties age, the husband continues to be significantly better off than the wife who ends up in rented accommodation on benefits. Had the wife taken legal advice, she would have ascertained that it is not appropriate for assets to be split equally between the parties in these circumstances, and that frequently there is not an equal division of the assets. She would have been further advised of her claim on the husband’s pension and that the pension could have been shared so that in retirement both parties benefit from the pension that was accrued during the marriage. As neither party had taken legal advice there is no order recording the agreement reached between the parties. There is no Clean Break Order. This is extremely disadvantageous to the husband because, even though the parties divorced some years ago, the wife still has a claim on his assets because there is no Clean Break. Rebecca has written more about Clean Breaks here.

In this situation, both parties would have benefitted from legal advice. It is commonly believed that upon divorce, splitting your assets 50/50 is the ‘fairest’ way, however this case proves that it is much more complex. We offer a free initial consultation, so the wife in this circumstance could have taken early legal advice. At that consultation, we consider all options as to how the wife may fund her legal fees from a range of personalised payment plans. There are options.

Fraser Dawbarns have a team of friendly and experienced lawyers who can offer advice on family matters in King’s Lynn, Wisbech, Downham Market, March and Ely.

If you would like specialist advice on your divorce, contact Rebecca Woodley directly by email rebeccawoodley@fraserdawbarns.com or telephone 01366 381818. Do not be put off by cost and enquire about our fixed fee divorce package for confidence that you will not be faced with any hidden surprises.

Find out more about Rebecca Woodley

Find out more about our Divorce services

Find out more about our Family Law services


This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek advice specific to your own circumstances.  Fraser Dawbarns LLP are always happy to provide such advice.

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