So the Court have announced a more automated service for the divorce process. This at the same time as the Co-Op have launched their ’faceless’ divorce services online also. Does this mean a better and more cost-effective service for divorcees?
Angie Brown, Senior Solicitor at Mooney Everett says “I have seen this coming for a number of years. Clients no longer want high price tag divorce processes and both Lawyers and the Courts are looking at ways to try and reduce that, but the quality of service cannot be lost as a result.”
The current Court fee to issue divorce proceedings in England and Wales is £550. This won’t change because an application is being made online, so it is not anticipated to save costs on the Court fee itself at this stage. The service is intended to operate a way to submit you Petition and documents that may accompany that via email. It does not take away from the work that needs to be completed by Court staff at the other end of that. Will it speed the process up? This remains to be seen and time will tell. Although, it is likely to only relate to the issuing of the papers at the outset and not the remainder of the process that still requires further document submission and Judicial attention and approval at key stages.
The ’new divorce’ model offered by online divorce services then, is that an improved service? Given that the majority of these services use online tools simply to take and complete information at the outset for a lawyer to review, before lodging papers with the Court, they don’t seem to offer a great deal more than advices at the initial stage. Some of these online services do offer an ‘automated’ service for the subsequent documentation that needs to be lodged with the Court in order to progress the divorce process fully, but only where clients confirm they fulfil strict criteria first and even then the question must arise as to how far a client would understand all of the potential pitfalls and issues that could arise, simply at the outset, without legal advice and full legal support throughout the process.
In particular, the importance of the timing of pronouncement of Decrees of divorce and the impact that they can have on separate financial proceedings and issues, as well as of course issues relating to costs orders and also simple tactical progress.
Angie says “It’s not about cutting down the service to cut the cost, that is false economy. At Mooney Everett, we continue to offer the same high level of service and ensure clients understand their options at each stage of the process. The difference with us, is that we continue to offer exceptional value for Money. No robots here!”
We now offer Fixed Fee Divorces, as well as a number of other pricing structures. This is because our clients needs differ, as they are all individuals, with very different cases and circumstances and our clients have assured us they continue to receive a high quality service that represents excellent value for money.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.