Changes in the law lead to the rise of the low-cost 'high street' divorce

Earlier this year we commented in several blog posts on the rise of the so-called ‘quickie’ and ‘cut-price’ divorce services.

On the same theme, we’ve read with interest a recent article by Laura Shannon in the Financial Mail on Sunday on the low-cost divorce services now being offered by the Co-op and other high street brands.

The article talks of ‘pricey’ solicitors being overlooked in favour of budget divorce websites and the legal services, including divorces, which are increasingly available on the high street. As a result of a recent change in the law, well known stores such as Co-op are now able to offer legal services.

The result of these changes to the law is that it’s now possible to get divorced for hundreds, rather than thousands of pounds however it is very important to stress that you really do get what you pay for!

In many cases, couples who are going through divorce may rent their home and have very few assets. In straightforward cases such as these, it’s possible to divide assets pretty amicably making a low-cost, ‘quickie’ divorce a viable option. However divorces very often aren’t so straightforward and when couples own property, have significant assets or are facing custody disputes, a quickie divorce is highly likely to be the wrong solution.

Around two thirds of divorce cases require a financial order to share out assets such as pensions or property and how these assets are divided is usually agreed between the couple and their divorce solicitors. In only relatively few cases is it necessary for a full court hearing where a judge imposes a settlement.

At Dovetail we’ve been offering fixed-fee divorce services for some time and feel strongly that this is the best way for us to offer our services in a way that allows divorcing couples to understand the cost of their divorce from the outset, rather than letting costs spiral out of control.

According to the article, a number of companies have been given the go-ahead to launch legal services including Admiral and BT. Over 182 licences have been issued so far by the Solicitors Regulation Authority; with hundreds more applications still to be processed.

Many online companies offer legal assistance; however services such as these are a cause for concern for regulators who warn that relying on standard template documents and self-help information is a risky route for customers to take.

The article concludes with a comment from a spokeswoman for The Law Society: “The outcome may not be as good for the client if a solicitor is not there to ask the right questions.

“Users may think they are getting the right product, but it may not achieve what they want and in some circumstances it could be invalid.”



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