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DIY divorces surge in wake of Mills case

Heather Mills's decision to represent herself during her court battle with Sir Paul McCartney Noun 1. Paul McCartney - English rock star and bass guitarist and songwriter who with John Lennon wrote most of the music for the Beatles (born in 1942)
McCartney, Sir James Paul McCartney
 has led to a surge in warring couples opting to carry out their own 'DIY divorces', according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 a leading lawyer.

More than 70 per cent of estranged es·trange  
tr.v. es·tranged, es·trang·ing, es·trang·es
1. To make hostile, unsympathetic, or indifferent; alienate.

2. To remove from an accustomed place or set of associations.
 husbands and wives will soon attempt to come to a financial settlement without the aid of a solicitor, said James Pirrie, a senior partner at Family Law in Partnership.

'People are thinking, "If Heather Mills Heather Mills (born 12 January 1968 in Aldershot, Hampshire, England), also known by her courtesy title (from her husband, Sir Paul McCartney) as Lady McCartney or Heather Mills McCartney  can represent herself in court and take on that Mr Mostyn, whom everyone says is the best lawyer in the country, then I can give Mr Bogstandard from down the High Street a run for his money",' said Pirrie.

'The Mills-McCartney experience has also encouraged couples to go for DIY DIY

DIY or d.i.y. Brit, Austral & NZ do-it-yourself
abbr DIY
do it yourself a DIY shop/job.
 divorces because of the ferocity of their fight,' he added. 'Divorces like Mills-McCartney have meant non-celebrities now see divorce as this terrifying ter·ri·fy  
tr.v. ter·ri·fied, ter·ri·fy·ing, ter·ri·fies
1. To fill with terror; make deeply afraid. See Synonyms at frighten.

2. To menace or threaten; intimidate.
, gladiatorial glad·i·a·tor  
1. A person, usually a professional combatant, a captive, or a slave, trained to entertain the public by engaging in mortal combat with another person or a wild animal in the ancient Roman arena.

 struggle between lawyers who are effectively mad vultures preying on the carcass carcass, carcase

1. the body of an animal killed for meat. The head, the legs below the knees and hocks, the tail, the skin and most of the viscera are removed. The kidneys are left in and in most instances the body is split down the middle through the sternum and the vertebral
 of the marriage. People wrongly think that, by going it alone, they have more chance of avoiding antagonism with their partners. Sadly, that is the reversal of the truth.'

Mills will learn the wisdom of her decision to go it alone in the Family Division of the Royal Courts of Justice tomorrow, when Mr Justice Hugh Bennett reveals how much of McCartney's estimated £825m fortune she will receive; a report last week claimed it would be close to £25m.

The divorce of the couple, who split in May 2006 after four years together, turned into one of the most costly and acrimonious battles in British legal history. Mills originally hired litigator lit·i·gate  
v. lit·i·gat·ed, lit·i·gat·ing, lit·i·gates
To contest in legal proceedings.

To engage in legal proceedings.
 Anthony Julius Anthony Julius (born 1956) is a prominent British lawyer and academic, best known for his actions on behalf of Diana, Princess of Wales and Deborah Lipstadt. He is a senior consultant for the London law firm Mishcon de Reya. , who represented Princess Diana Noun 1. Princess Diana - English aristocrat who was the first wife of Prince Charles; her death in an automobile accident in Paris produced intense national mourning (1961-1997)
Diana, Lady Diana Frances Spencer, Princess of Wales
, but a series of media outbursts led to a parting of the ways. She ended up fighting her case without legal representation, against McCartney and what was probably the most expensive divorce team assembled in this country.

There are no figures for the number of litigants who choose to self-represent, but Pirrie said: 'I estimate that more than 70 per cent of all contested divorces in Britain will soon be self-represented.'

More than 300,000 people will divorce this year, costing £28,000 per couple. Women come off worse when they try to save money by conducting DIY divorces, said Diane Benussi This article or section has multiple issues:
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, founder of Benussi & Co. 'We are rung up with increasing frequency by women who have been persuaded by their estranged husbands to go through a divorce without the involvement of a lawyer but who then belatedly realise, once the divorce has gone through, that they have lost out hugely in the financial stakes,' she said.

'What comes to light later is that the men have been advised all along by a solicitor who helps the man get a very advantageous deal.'

Pirrie warned: 'DIY divorces are more likely than not to be terribly destructive, both to the children and to the separating couple themselves.'

The rise in DIY divorces has led to a push among family lawyers towards a collaborative approach to divorce, whereby couples and their legal teams pledge to do their utmost to remain away from the courtroom. James Stewart, a specialist family lawyer for Resolution, formerly the Solicitors Family Law Association, blames the rise in couples attempting to represent themselves in the courtroom on out-of-date divorce laws.

'Despite huge changes in family life and social attitudes, there have been few changes to the law in the 33 years between Ringo Starr's divorce in 1975 and Paul McCartney's divorce now,' he said. 'Our methods are out of date, expensive, uncivilised and inefficient.'

Going it alone was so stressful

· Tanya, 52, represented herself in court six years ago during her divorce. She says the stress of cross-questioning her estranged husband dwarfed the advantage of saving thousands of pounds in legal fees.

'My husband had been having an affair for three years and wanted sole custody of our three children.

'Representing myself in court was very, very daunting daunt  
tr.v. daunt·ed, daunt·ing, daunts
To abate the courage of; discourage. See Synonyms at dismay.

[Middle English daunten, from Old French danter, from Latin
; I wouldn't wish it on anybody. I decided to represent myself partly because I couldn't afford lawyers, but also because I felt that no one was as expert in my case as I was.

'Looking back, I can see that what I actually wanted was something that no court could give me. I wanted to have my say and get some public acknowledgement for what I'd suffered.

'One of the hardest things was keeping cool while cross-examining my ex-husband. But because I knew him so well, I knew how to get to his pressure points. Fortunately, we had a very kind judge, who bent over backwards to see I had a fair trial.

'But I regret going it alone. I don't think I got as good a deal as if I'd used a solicitor, and the stress was horrible.'
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Date:Mar 16, 2008
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