It has been reported by BBC News this week that firms offering “quickie” divorces will be investigated by the UK’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-66288118).
The introduction of the new divorce laws in April 2022, coupled with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, has led to a more streamlined, online process for divorce. As practitioners, it is much easier and quicker to help our clients to obtain a divorce than the historic paper process or they can do this by themselves.
However, as highlighted by the BBC, there are companies who are exploiting this and attracting clients by purporting to offer a cheap online divorce service. Unfortunately, some companies providing this are not conventional law firms, and the advisors are not legally trained. It reported that this is leading to mistakes being made including the wrong forms being used, incorrect details being included or documents being sent to the Court late, resulting in fees being higher than anticipated and the divorce taking longer than necessary. Some of the complaints to the CMA included that there were misleading claims about the simplicity of the process and the cost.
Where clients are concerned about keeping their legal costs low, we encourage them to undertake all or parts of the legal process themselves where they feel confident to do so, and this includes applying for their divorce. However we can also guide them through this process and give them the tools and advice that they need to ensure their divorce is completed effectively. We are on hand to answer their questions and make sure that they understand the requirements of what they need to do and when.
There are usually other issues that need to be dealt with alongside the divorce, such as child arrangements or financial issues. This will need tailored legal advice to ensure that all financial claims against each other are dealt with and that they both have a final line drawn under their marriage to be able to move forwards separately. Where divorcing couples use a quick and cheap online divorce company, they may be missing out on receiving this essential advice and it may mean that, while they formally end their marriage, they do not dismiss potential financial claims against each other. These financial claims continue long into the future unless dismissed by the court upon divorce.
So how can we help?
We offer all clients an initial meeting where we can discuss the circumstances of your case and advise you as to the options available to you and the best way forwards for you personally. If there are no existing court proceedings this can be done on a fixed fee basis which is a very cost effective way of getting initial advice.
If you choose to pursue the divorce by yourself then we can be on hand to help you through that process and ensure it is completed accurately and promptly. At Whitehead Monckton we are members of Resolution, a community of family law professionals who are committed to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational and constructive way and we will also help you to deal with your divorce as efficiently as possible.