to MIAM or not to MIAM?

government ministers are constantly looking at ways of keeping people out of the courts, especially divorcing couples, with the motivation as ever that this will save money for the taxpayer and/or increase their popularity. it must be sensible to explore the possibility of resolving disputes outside the courtroom, particularly family cases, which do seem ill-suited to an adversarial process especially where children are involved.
the most popular alternative to litigation for Whitehall mandarins seems to be mediation, whereby a jointly appointed mediator (who may or may not be a lawyer) tries to help the parties to reach their own solution to their problems, instead of imposing a decision on them which they may or may not like as a judge would do. there is much to be said for this process if there is a level playing field, as the parties are much more likely to be happy with and abide by a solution they have achieved themselves. of course there is inevitably a cost to mediation – the mediator has to be paid by the parties, and they might need external legal advice during the process – plus it can create additional costs and delay if mediation is tried and fails. nonetheless, the process has clear strengths and potential advantages for many couples.
however, the bottom line is that you can’t force people to mediate if they don’t want to. some cases just need to be resolved by a judge due to their very nature, and some spouses are determined to have their day in court and cause as much cost and inconvenience as possible for their former spouse as part of the healing process. government has been slow to realise this however, and there seems to be a suspicion that lawyers deliberately fail to inform clients about mediation to keep their tills ringing with court work – cue populist sound bites about fat cat lawyers. no doubt there are some solicitors who think like this, but I am sure that most family lawyers genuinely want the best outcome for their clients, particularly members of resolution (www.resolution.org.uk). in fact, the recent and very probably ill-judged removal of legal aid from most family law cases has resulted in a sharp decline in the number of referrals to meetings for people to find about how mediation works before embarking on court proceedings (known as mediation information and assessment meetings, or MIAMs). this seems to suggest that lawyers were in fact more willing to refer clients to MIAMs than politicians believed.
another move in this direction is that from april this year, anyone who wishes to apply for financial orders in divorce proceedings must first attend at a MIAM before being allowed to issue an application (known as a form A or B for any law students in the room – a gold star for anyone who can tell me the difference). this MIAM requirement can only be avoided in certain fairly extreme circumstances, such as the presence of proven domestic violence, or unreasonable hardship. sounds ok at first sight, although by the law of unintended consequences this has resulted in form A and B becoming much longer and complex, and much harder for non lawyers to understand. furthermore, i have already had one case where the other side were unwilling to contemplate mediation, so they simply skipped around the MIAM requirement at issue stage by falsely claiming unreasonable hardship in the form A. this misconduct should in theory be picked up by the judge at the first hearing (given that my client was paying many thousands of pounds per month in voluntary maintenance at the time!), but it remains to be seen what appetite the judges will have for upholding the new rules.
a better answer may be to educate people more effectively about the potential benefits of alternatives to going to court, rather than forcing them to take part in a process which by its nature needs to be embarked upon voluntarily. longer term, it may be sensible to try to completely change the culture of the divorce process by removing divorcing couples from the adversarial court arena all together. the creation of the single family court in april this year, which now deals with almost all family cases, is a tremendous step in the right direction, and one which may eventually put me out of a job if I am around for long enough.
in the meantime, I like to see www.justdivorce.co.uk as another form of alternative dispute resolution in itself, since it is very cost-effective, it depends on the cooperation of the parties and it keeps them completely out of court except on paper. I wonder if I could persuade the MOJ to make a JD-IAM compulsory?

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It’s women who want divorce, our study reveals

divorce word cloudOur Research into Search Behaviour

Justdivorce.co.uk has conducted some new research which reveals that women are much more interested in divorce compared with men. We analysed a year’s worth of website data (collected from Justdivorce.co.uk) and have identified a striking difference in search behaviour when looking at the search terms visitors were using to find the site.

According to Google, the demographics of our website visitors show a fairly even 50/50 split between male and female, so there is no gender bias at play. But the search terms used tell us that women are far more interested in divorce than men.

We examined a range of search terms over a recent 12 month period and recorded those which mentioned divorce specifically. We investigated this further and noticed there were a lot more references to “husband” than to “wife”.

The majority of these searches showed women’s enquiries (phrases used included “how do I divorce my husband”, “can I divorce my husband”, “grounds for divorcing husband”, “divorcing husband”, and so on).

Comparing the two, we found that almost 70% of divorce-related searches came from women and only 30% from men.

These findings may come as no great surprise since they correlate well with some established statistics about divorce and gender. There have been many studies particularly in the US and UK which show that women are much more likely to pursue divorce than their male partners.

 

Published divorce statistics

A 2000 paper published in American Law and Economics Review by Margaret F. Brinig and Douglas W. Allen reported data from several studies across the US spanning more than 100 years (1867 to 1995) regarding the percentage of instances where the woman had filed for divorce. Based on the collected data, it turns out that women had initiated the divorce in around 70% of all cases.

In the UK, the Office for National Statistics records data about divorces every year and a clear trend can be seen. From 2011 to 2013, divorce petitions from the wife outnumbered divorce petitions from the husband by 2 to 1. In total, two thirds of all divorce petitions came from women, with around 65% from women compared to just 35% initiated by men.

In 2012, the Office for National Statistics reported that from all the divorce decrees granted to one partner, 65% were granted to the wife.

 

Grounds for Divorce

The divorce statistics for the last decade or more reveal the grounds for divorce cited by the petitioners. In the UK, there are only five grounds for divorce – unreasonable behavior, adultery, 2 years separation with consent, 5 years separation, and 2 years desertion. For both men and women the grounds for divorce are quite similar, with Unreasonable Behaviour being the most cited. Separation is the next most common reason (2 years with consent being more common than 5 years). Adultery is less common, with only a small percentage of women and men citing this as grounds for divorce, while desertion petitions are very rare nowadays.

The UK Ministry of Justice recently published some data on the grounds for divorce cited by petitioners in England and Wales :

Grounds for Divorce cited by wives in England and Wales (2011-2013)

  • Unreasonable Behaviour (54%)
  • 2 Years Separation with Consent (22%)
  • Adultery (13%)
  • 5 Years Separation (10%)
  • 2 Years Desertion (0.6%)
  • Mixed Grounds (0.4%)

Grounds for Divorce cited by husbands in England and Wales (2011-2013)

  • Unreasonable Behaviour (37.5%)
  • 2 Years Separation with Consent (31%)
  • 5 Years Separation (17%)
  • Adultery (13%)
  • 2 Years Desertion (1%)
  • Mixed Grounds (0.5%)

The grounds for divorce cited by petitioners appear similar for both men and women except for Unreasonable Behaviour, which is used more often by women than by men. Unreasonable behaviour covers a range of allegations including physical abuse, mental cruelty, alcoholism, and gambling for example. These can all be triggers for divorce but they don’t explain why women are much more likely than men to take that step.

We created an infographic (below) to illustrate the main findings of our study :

JD-women-divorce-infographic2

 

Women’s Motivation for Divorce

Perhaps women may be more likely to initiate divorce than men because they believe they have more to gain from court settlements. The public perception is that UK divorce courts usually favour the wife, especially when there are children involved. Men may be less likely to pursue divorce because they fear losing their children and the high costs of the divorce to them financially.

If you ask men why most divorces are pursued by women, many may tell you it’s because the British courts favour the wives, awarding them custody of the children and financial support for life, something that doesn’t happen in many other countries which instead limit financial support to just a few years.

Up until recently women could also pay for their divorce through legal aid, making it an even more attractive option. However public funding has now been largely removed from divorce cases, so it will be interesting to see if this reduces the number of divorce petitions from women over the coming years.

Of course it would be naive to believe that divorce is an easy process for women. Court proceedings can be equally stressful for both partners and divorced women face many daunting challenges including moving house, single parenthood, a significant reduction in income, finding new employment, and gaining access to childcare. Divorce for women remains a high-risk activity, and yet they are twice as likely to take the risk compared to men. Maybe there is a much simpler explanation behind all this – are women braver than men when it comes to ending unhappy relationships?

 

Join the debate

We want to hear from both women and men on this subject. Why do you think women are much likelier to initiate divorce proceedings? Are you considering a divorce? Have you gone through a divorce? We want to hear from anyone with first hand experience. Please comment below.

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Irreconcilable Differences and Grounds For Divorce

it’s only when i read something in the papers i actually know something about (which is not that often, admittedly) that i realise how inaccurate a lot of journalistic reporting is. newspaper reports of celeb divorce hearings sometimes cite “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds for divorce. in fact, irreconcilable differences is not an available basis on which to seek a divorce at all.

in a nutshell, to get a divorce in england or wales  one has to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. this can be done in one of five different ways, namely adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, 2 years separation with consent or 5 years separation. irreconcilable differences is conspicuous only for its absence. there are of course additional hurdles to jump, such as showing that the court has jurisdiction to accept the divorce petition in the first place.

the unreasonable behaviour ground for divorce can be a kind of sweep up provision covering a multitude of sins, although adultery should not be included as an allegation of unreasonable behaviour but should be pleaded  separately as a  ground for divorce in its own right. i suspect that when journalists mistakenly refer to irreconcilable differences the divorce petition has usually been based on unreasonable behaviour. however, the irreconcilable differences must have been caused by the actual unreasonable behaviour of the “guilty” party – the respondent to the petition. hence it’s not sufficient for the petitioner (the one issuing the petition) to allege for example that “frequent arguments occurred between the petitioner and the respondent”. he (or more commonly she) must claim that “frequent arguments occurred between the petitioner and the respondent as a result of the respondent’s unreasonable behaviour

as can be seen from the above, if someone wants to get divorced immediately without waiting for 2 or 5 years separation to pass one has to allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour, but this risks raising the temperature and causing conflict. there are ways of reducing the tension, and for example it’s possible for the respondent to admit adultery with an un-named co-respondent. an experienced family lawyer can also draft a mild unreasonable behaviour petition, to cause minimum offence to the respondent whilst satisfying the court that proper grounds for divorce exist. where both parties want an immediate consensual divorce  with minimum fuss they often find it perplexing to be told that the law requires one of them to make allegations of bad behaviour against the other. indeed they find it hard to understand why they can’t cite irreconcilable differences, just like the celebs do in the papers.

one wonders how long will it be until the possibility of no fault divorce is raised again in parliament? not for a while if there’s another coalition government after next year’s election, i suspect. too much of a political hot potato.

for more information on grounds for divorce visit http://www.justdivorce.co.uk/divorce-grounds

Posted in Divorce, Divorce Law, Uncategorized, uncontested divorce | 1 Comment

Where To Now For Online Divorce?

some years ago the co-op announced its intention to become a major provider of legal advice in competition with traditional firms of solicitors, particularly in relation to services for individuals rather than companies such as wills and probate, personal injury and conveyancing. as part of this objective it launched an ABS (alternative business structure) named co-operative legal services and recruited some fairly heavyweight lawyers from private practice to kick start the venture. one of the services offered by the business is family law, including divorce and related issues. that’s it, I thought. great brand. huge reach. massive marketing spend. time for me and all rational family solicitors in private practice to hang up their mice and retire to a large villa in the Bahamas or a small bungalow in rhyll, depending on how kind the fates have been over the years.
imagine my surprise therefore when the business recently announced an underlying operating loss of £9.1 million on a “flat” turnover of £33 million. on reflection I guess this was not such a great shock, given the torrid time the co-op bank in particular has been having over the last couple of years, and the toxic damage suffered by the brand as a result. maybe it’s not all over after all, I thought to myself.
hot on the heels of this development came news that the advertising standards agency (asa) had upheld a complaint against quickie divorce in relation to its claim to be “the uk’s leading providers of online divorces”. the asa decided that this bold claim could not be substantiated and was therefore misleading. once more my premature retirement faded a little as I learnt how another competitor to justdivorce.co.uk had got itself into a spot of bother.
that then reminded me that there may soon be a review of the activities and structure of organisations involved in the provision of online divorces, the results of which could be very interesting. the last time I looked (which was a while ago admittedly), the preparation of court documents was a reserved activity and should therefore only be carried out by qualified solicitors under the supervision of the solicitors regulation authority (sra). if that remains the case it’s hard to see how many of the unqualified paralegal companies currently offering online divorces can be doing so legally, since most of them seem to prepare court forms as part of their offerings. indeed, if they don’t do so then one wonders what they are bringing to the table?
no such problems with justidivorce.co.uk I am happy to say. we don’t have a huge division of misbehaving bankers to tarnish our brand. we don’t make misleading advertising claims, and I wish to make it clear once again that we do not handle 99% of all online divorces. we are the online arm of a firm of specialist family law solicitors which is fully regulated by the sra and maintains professional indemnity insurance for the protection of its clients. we may not be the uk’s leading provider of online divorces (yet), but I believe justdivorce.co.uk has nothing to fear from any investigation into the online divorce marketplace. I am not so sure that all of our competitors can say the same.

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Do You Need A Conscious Uncoupling Or An Uncontested Divorce?

there has been lots of sniggering in the press recently around the latest A list divorce, after gwyneth paltrow announced her separation from coldplay frontman chris martin and described it as as a “conscious uncoupling”. she gave the news via her goop website – everything seems to be online these days! the evening standard cattily pointed out that only ms paltrow could make divorce sound like an aspirational lifestyle choice (and a possible marketing opportunity). apparently she will stay in LA with their children apple and moses, while mr martin seems likely to re-locate to London where they lived for about 10 years until last year, raising possible jurisdiction issues – see http://www.justdivorce.co.uk/jurisdiction for more details. incidentally, why on earth do celebrity couples insist on giving their kids such daft names? have they never had to survive the brutal jungle that is a school playground?
it’s easy to write off Gwyneth’s phraseology as more flakey californian dysfunctionality, and there is a tendency for people to bask in the misfortune of others. however, there’s an element of sadness in every divorce, especially if children are involved. fortunately the couple do seem to be quite child-focussed, despite their extraordinary life-styles. there’s a marilyn monroe feel to the failure of ms paltrow’s marriage, given her star roles in glamorous perfume ads and frequent red carpet/catwalk front row appearances as a style icon. if she can’t be happy, what hope is there for the rest of us? of course, the irony is that her fabulous celebrity life style seems just too much for most mere mortals to cope with.
maybe what ms paltrow is really asking for in her LA speke is simply a civilised divorce, where the parties treat each other with respect and focus on a consensual outcome with the best interests of the children at heart. as any family lawyer worth his or her salt will tell you, this is the only sensible approach to divorce, and those many lawyers who foster an aggressive and adversarial approach should be given a very wide berth (see http://www.resolution.org.uk for more on this). come to think of it, ms paltrow and mr martin could do a lot worse than engage the services of www.justdivorce.co.uk, an online space where everything depends on consent and cooperation and the role of the lawyers is kept to a necessary minimum, along with their fees. no parachutes required.

Posted in Children, Divorce, Divorce Law, Jurisdiction, Moving abroad, uncontested divorce, undefended divorce | Leave a comment

Binding Pre-Nups – Cart Before The Divorce Horse?

the law commission is a body that advises government on desirable changes to the law , so that government can then completely ignore it’s recommendations. ok ok that’s a bit harsh, but not so far off the mark where the political hot potato that is family law is concerned. the commission recommended recently that legislation should be passed to make pre-nuptial agreements legal and binding. “pre-nups”, as they are often referred to, are essentially agreements that enable parties to decide for themselves what will happen to their finances etc on divorce, rather than having a decision imposed on them by a judge. in the old days they were unenforceable in the courts as being likely to undermine the institution of marriage, but as often happens the law is slowly evolving in response to changes in social attitudes. at present pre-nups are not binding on the divorce courts of england and wales as such, which unfortunately creates uncertainty, but cases such as radmacher v granatino confirm that they will usually be upheld if various conditions are fulfilled.
well the first point is – don’t hold your breath. there have been previous attempts to introduce pre-nups onto the statute book but these have all been kicked into the long grass. one suspects that the coalition government’s attention may be elsewhere with an election on the horizon and UKIP wooing the daily mail fan club.
secondly, legislating for pre-nups may possibly remove their whole attraction. radmacher essentially held that a pre-nup can be upheld if it is “fair”, whatever that means. however, that is often the last thing that at least one of the parties to a pre-nup is after. what he (or she in the radmacher case) really wants is a completely unfair outcome that allows him to keep all of his pre-owned/inherited/gifted/hard-worked-for wealth intact, without having to give a penny to his evil spouse. the last thing he desires is to be ordered by a meddling judge to give money to his wife after, say, a 25 year marriage where his wife has sacrificed her career to work unpaid at home all hours and raise 3 kids – quel horreur! or a marriage of similar length where the husband has worked a 60 plus hour week while his wife has been up close and personal with the instructors at the local health club. the law commission proposes to resolve this issue by providing for example that a pre-nup must as a minimum cover a person’s basic needs. this would be an important safeguard, although “needs” can to be a flexible concept depending on the income and lifestyle of the parties involved.
pre-nups traditionally used to be the preserve of the rich and famous, understandably so as the costs involved in providing financial disclosure, drafting a settlement and obtaining independent legal advice by both parties can be substantial – it’s not just a question of jotting the agreement on the back of a fag packet. these days however there are some good reasons for “normal” people to consider making a pre-nup, and perhaps the most compelling of these is the quest for certainty. at present, judges considering financial issues on divorce have to apply an act of parliament that was passed in 1973, and which admittedly was a forward thinking piece of legislation at the time. however times have inevitably changed over the last 40 years. the 1973 act is no longer adequate to deal with the complexities of modern life and divorce, with high earning wives in successful careers (as in radmacher), multi national marriages (radmacher again), assets in different jurisdictions etc etc. this has resulted in a large body of judge made case setting out various principles, some of which are not even contained in the 1973 act! (compensation, sharing etc). most of these cases involve very wealthy people and have little or no relation to the facts of an average divorce case, and lawyers are also told constantly that each case must be decided on its own facts, despite this body of precedents.
consequently, it’s very difficult in anything but the simplest of cases for lawyers to predict what the financial outcome will be on divorce in England and wales with any accuracy. the courts have a very wide discretion (http://www.justdivorce.co.uk/financial-clean-break) which can helpfully craft a tailor made outcome, but inevitably creates the bête noire of uncertainty. lack of certainty gives increased scope for argument (which lawyers and often divorcing couples are very good at) and can lead in turn to increased acrimony, costs and delay. add to the mix a much larger number of parties acting in person without a lawyer due to the government’s decision to slash legal aid in family cases and you have a potential recipe for meltdown in the family court system.
a binding pre-nup as recommended by the law commission should remove most of that uncertainty. there would be no doubt that the pre-nup would be upheld by the court, and the agreement would spell out the outcome in clear terms. the lawyers could take the day off!
surely however it might be better for parliament to approach the problem of uncertainty of outcome from completely the opposite direction, and to radically overhaul and reform the law of financial outcomes on divorce. well drafted legislation should result in a far clearer picture of what would happen to finances on divorce in the particular circumstances of each case. this would remove most if not all of the existing uncertainty and confusion, and hence substantially reduce the need for pre-nups in the first place.
what better way of upholding the institution of marriage?

Posted in Divorce, Financial Clean Break Order, financial remedies on divorce, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NO-ONE TOLD ME I WAS DIVORCED!

the independent newspaper reported recently that a lady named mrs mulcahy had sued her solicitors, claiming they were negligent in not explaining to her that issuing a divorce petition would result in her marriage coming to an end! compensation culture gone crazy, I hear you mutter? as often with such headlines however, there was more to it. as a devout roman catholic mrs mulcahy believed in the sanctity of marriage. she argued that because of this her solicitors should have advised her about possible alternatives to divorce, such as judicial separation. this is a court order giving the petitioner legal permission to live apart from the other spouse, but remaining married. however mrs mulcahy had wanted a final financial clean break settlement, which is impossible in judicial separation proceedings given the possibility of a future divorce petition.
it was also reported that mrs mulcahy suffered from Asperger’s syndrome, and presumably this may have affected her ability to give instructions and consider advice received. indeed she argued herself in court that this condition amounted to a disability. however her claim was ultimately rejected by the court of appeal, no doubt much to the relief of her solicitors.
the case is a sharp reminder to practising lawyers of the importance of taking nothing at all for granted, and of 2 golden rules in particular. the first is the obvious importance of considering all relevant issues and giving good, accurate advice. the second just as crucial rule is the importance of ensuring that the client’s file contains a very clear written record of all such matters. I urge any trainee lawyer who may be reading this to regard good file management as an absolute basic necessity and not as a chore. if you are sued for negligence you will stand or fall on the contents of your file. does it confirm that the client actually informed you of her religious convictions? does it show that you advised her in writing of the consequences of divorce and any other available options? if the file is silent the SRA will almost certainly make adverse assumptions against you. mrs mulcahy’s claim shows that nothing can be taken for granted and that being a lawyer is a minefield for the unwary!
if you are a client reading this then the moral is to tell your solicitor everything you consider to be important or relevant, to avoid misunderstandings of this nature. if you do have to sue your solicitor then again any available written evidence will be crucial.
where uncontested divorce services are provided online for a competitive fixed fee there has to be some kind of limit on the amount of bespoke advice provided to individual clients if the business is to remain financially viable. however, these 2 competing standpoints can be reconciled firstly by using the latest technology to deliver legal services in the most cost effective manner. secondly, it is essential to provide free, good quality, practical generic advice about the legal and practical issues involved in obtaining an undefended divorce online.

Posted in Divorce, Divorce Law, Online Divorce, Uncategorized, uncontested divorce, undefended divorce | Leave a comment

ONLINE DIVORCE AND GOING TO WAR

2 recent stories graphically demonstrate the differing choices faced by people dealing with their own divorce. first is the “nuclear” option embraced enthusiastically by fallen businessman scott young and (one suspects more reluctantly) by his ex wife michelle. mrs young’s claim for financial orders was doggedly opposed by the husband, and their cases were extraordinarily different even by the common standards of such disputes. mr young claimed to be penniless and bankrupt despite living in a £4,000 a week central London flat, whilst the wife hazarded a guess that he is worth a few billion quid! as often seems to be the way, it rather feels that the court took a middle line when deciding that mr young is worth around £40m and awarding the wife a healthy half share. no doubt there will be many satellite arguments about the parties’ huge legal bills, as well as a probable appeal or two. it’s exhausting just thinking about all that wasted time, money and emotional energy.
second, the excellent family lawyers’ group “resolution” recently published the results of a survey into the public’s knowledge and understanding of alternatives to going to court and fighting over finances on divorce. despite lot’s of publicity about alternative dispute resolution methods (ADR) such as mediation, arbitration and collaborative law, only 51%of those who took part thought that they would consider a non court based solution. even more alarmingly, only 52% of people believed that settling out of court was better for the “well-being of couples”.
less surprisingly, after legal aid cuts in april 2013 which have resulted in fewer people being able to obtain legal advice about ADR, the number of referrals to mediation has reduced by 39%. is this yet another example of muddled and short sighted non-listening government thinking achieving the opposite of its intended cost-saving effect? why do politicians refuse to trust specialist professionals in so many walks of life?
I believe personally that the online undefended divorce service provided by justdivorce.co.uk can also justifiably lay claim to being a meaningful form of ADR. the site contains bags of helpful free legal advice prepared by a very experienced family lawyer – me! the service expressly depends on the parties being in agreement and being capable of co-operating with each other. the service is provided for a transparent fixed fee which is not only far lower than the charges of a solicitor on traditional hourly charging rates but also less than many mediators would charge for just one session. neither of the parties need go to court at any stage of the divorce process, and they can also resolve their finances out of court by using our financial clean break order service. online divorce services from trustworthy, regulated providers have a genuine and expanding role to play in the provision of family legal services, and are here to stay for those who don’t want to go to war!

Posted in Divorce, financial remedies on divorce, Legal Aid, Online Divorce, uncontested divorce, undefended divorce | Leave a comment

BANKER OPTS FOR DIY DIVORCE

the evening standard reported last week that former city trader yan assoun, the boss of a banking business with a multi million dollar turnover and the owner of a 3.3 million dollar new York apartment, had opted for a diy divorce. mr assoun represented himself as a litigant in person in court, where he was appealing against an order requiring him to pay an eye-watering contribution of £235,000 towards his wife’s legal costs of their bitter divorce. mr assoun claimed that he could no longer afford to pay a solicitor to represent him in the proceedings, and that a business turnover of 8 million dollars did not mean necessarily that he receives a large income himself.
however, the court effectively decided that since mr assoun controlled the business he could afford to pay himself more if he chose to do so. this is one of a line of recent cases considering the extent to which entrepreneurs and successful individuals can shield their business interests from very interested ex spouses (usually wives) on divorce.
it is gratifying that mr assoun eventually came to appreciate the advantages of acting as a litigant in person, but unfortunate that it cost him £235,000 to get into that space.
happy Halloween!

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UNDEFENDED ONLINE DIVORCE – AN EVOLVING MARKET-PLACE

a new report from YouGov SixthSense (“Family law – Divorce”) shows how the market place for family law advice is changing, not least due to the depressing withdrawal of legal aid from most divorce cases. this is hardly surprising, given the internet is now the first port of call for most people wanting information about almost anything. my 14 year old daughter doesn’t seem to have school books any more, she just googles her homework! in fact most divorcing couples still see a solicitor for divorce help, but 25% had gone it alone without a lawyer. less than a third of this latter group had used DIY divorce websites for an uncontested divorce, although the report predicts that this proportion seems certain to rise.
DIY divorces are most popular amongst younger people – a third of 25-34 year olds arranged their own divorces. again this is not a shock, given that this age group are more comfortable with technology than most silver surfers and that 28% of people using a lawyer incurred fees of over £5,000. almost half of people instructing a solicitor received a bill higher than they expected, an age old problem with bills based on hourly charging rates. those arranging their own divorces achieved a substantial costs saving, and over 80% of these people were satisfied with the process.
as I keep banging on however, its horses for courses. some cases are just so complicated or acrimonious that it would be daft to embark on the divorce process without the protection of a specialist solicitor, assuming you can afford the inevitable fees. if you are in that category come and see us at josiah-lake gardiner, a specialist family law firm. however, if the facts are simple and everything is agreed it may make good sense to do it yourself and use the money saved to go on a singles holiday when its all over! cue www.justdivorce.co.uk, with comprehensive advice and support at transparent fixed prices. all bases covered.

Posted in Divorce, Divorce Law, Online Divorce, uncontested divorce, undefended divorce | Leave a comment