Linda Sheridan has been a member of Wikivorce.com since April 2008. She is almost at the end of her Managed Divorce process and gave us her experience to date.
My husband and I were married for a total of 5 years, with no children between us. When the marriage broke down we spent some 7 months working with a Relate counsellor. We eventually agreed to separate. I was reluctant to engage a solicitor; solicitors are expensive and not always necessary. More and more I was hearing about the possibility of ‘Self-Repping’. The idea of spending thousands of pounds on a divorce was not appealing. It’s hard enough to divide marital assets and start again, without giving money away unnecessarily.
Initially, I was interested in representing myself. This is my second divorce and I thought I knew the ropes. Paying only court fees appealed. However, when I downloaded the relevant form to petition for divorce, I was suddenly unsure. Divorce has a way of eating into confidence!
With the range of online divorce products available, I looked around to see how else I might begin my divorce. I liked the idea of a 'managed' divorce, the cost was low (I purchased mine online for £249). Since we were divorcing on the basis of a 2-year separation, with consent, this looked like the perfect solution. Everything was done online and by email. At this point we had effectively been separated for almost 3 years, having sold the marital home 2 years previously and divided our assets. This meant that a Consent Order was appropriate as we had each agreed not to make a further financial claim against the other. We wanted a clean break. For a further £100, I purchased a Fixed-Price Divorce + Consent Order package. At some £350 plus £300 court fee, we agreed to share the total cost 50/50. A further court fee would apply when the Consent Order was made but we were still looking at a total cost of under £1000. Less than £500 to pay for a divorce, managed by solicitors and all done online, it suited us.
In filling in the initial ‘fact-finding’ questionnaire, not every question was relevant but I was unsure how to fill in those sections. It was great to be able to email the solicitor and get immediate answers. It certainly inspired confidence to complete the forms. My husband had agreed to represent himself and let my online solicitor manage the divorce.
After completing the questionnaire, I received (by email) a copy of the petition for my approval. This was followed by a copy of the Acknowledgement of Service. My divorce was finally underway! At every step, I received letters and documents by email to keep me informed of what was going on, which was very reassuring.
So how long did it all take? Well, the petition was filed in late March this year, I received a ‘Certificate of entitlement to a decree’ at the beginning of June (after walking around with my affidavit in my bag for about 4 weeks!) and the Decree Nisi was Pronounced at the end of July. At this point, we were able to draft a Consent Order to be heard before the Decree Absolute. Right now, we're in the process of agreeing terms of a Consent Order and I fully expect the Decree Absolute to be given by September. And that’s it.
Would I recommend a Managed Divorce? Absolutely! Does it suit everyone? Not at all. These products are aimed at people who are vastly in agreement on divorce related matters. The more people disagree, the more likely it is that matters will end up in court and that means racking up legal fees. Listening to members of Wikivorce, legal fees can easily escalate to tens of thousands of pounds. To argue it out in court, paying much of whatever is left in the marital asset pot, after division, then to have nothing left to build a single future with, seems like a pyrrhic victory to me. This way, I have most of my share of assets intact, and the rest of my life to live!
Updated: Decree Absolute granted on 21st December 2009.