'Quickie' divorces - Are they worth it or do they cause more complications?
Since the introduction of no-fault divorce in April 2022, there has been an increase in online services claiming to deal with divorces in a cheaper, quicker and more convenient way than formally instructing a solicitor. Whilst the new blameless divorce process itself is relatively simple to start online, the need – and indeed value – of sound legal advice is frequently overlooked.
It is a common misconception that the simplified online divorce application settles everything.
In reality, the application simply serves as the trigger for a whole raft of life-changing discussions and decisions about shared care of children and the division of finances. This is where professional legal advice from a specialist family lawyer can really assist parties in a way which online divorce services simply cannot.
The UK’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has recently confirmed that it will begin an investigation into firms offering ‘quickie’ divorces.
Such services are often unregulated and leave their customers at risk of not having access to standard consumer law protections. The CMA reports complaints about misleading claims by these services, whether in respect of the process itself or the overall cost. Other complaints relate to an inadequate quality of service, where agencies have used the wrong forms, entered incorrect details or sent papers to the court late.
Whilst it can be tempting to choose what appears to be the cheapest option, the CMA’s investigation serves as a stark warning that all may not be as simple as it seems.
Divorce is a legal process which should be taken seriously. Without the support and assistance of professional experts, clients could end up paying as much as – or more than – they would have by going to a regulated law firm to begin with, especially if additional work needs to be done to rectify errors made. They could also be deprived of the essential information and advice needed to assist them in resolving all the issues arising from the divorce. Due to the unregulated nature of these various online services, many clients are thus left unprotected in a family law context, as well as in respect of their consumer rights.
A qualified family law professional can advise not only on the divorce process, but on the difficult issues arising from divorce such as the division of finance and shared care of children – important issues which are not addressed by the application itself.
There is no question that a divorce is one of the most challenging experiences that a person can face, which makes it all the more important that the best possible information and advice is on hand to ensure that sound, long-lasting decisions are made at a critical turning point of life.
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