We are always interested, as family lawyers, to hear the news in our specific area and the latest news was regarding the Co-Op and their divorce for £99.00!
It is understandable that this will cause widespread interest in the press and for the public but, in my view, it is never quite as good as it seems.
My understanding is that the Co-Op are offering a DIY basic divorce for £99.00 plus VAT of £19.80 totalling £118.80. The question is: what do you get for money? If you sign up, the Co-Op will send you, either by post or on line, a guide for you to complete the Court documents yourselves and example letters for you to use to send the papers to the Court. The same information can of course be obtained from the Court Services website for no charge. The figure given does not include the additional Court costs which are payable in every case which includes the Court Petition fee of £340.00 and the Decree Absolute fee of £45.00.
The Co-Op also offer various other services which include, for example, a specialist lawyer checking your documents and for added extra, giving you 1 hour’s legal advice by phone or email. Their fully managed divorce including VAT and Court fees totals just less than £1,000.00.
Of course clients are looking for value for money and being as cost effective as possible. In such a stressful and emotional time as a relationship breakdown, most clients are looking for the reassurances that they have legally trained professionals who are advising them and representing their best interests, who are able to advise them on all aspects of their situation from a personal point of view, and having regard for their children arrangements and their financial affairs with the guidance of a solicitor to pre-empt and deal with any issues that may arise unexpectedly in relation to their matter.
There will be cases where you have, for example, a young couple who are wishing to divorce after only a year or two of marriage, they have no children and they have no assets between the two of them which need to be resolved, then a DIY basic divorce on line may be appropriate. However in situations where circumstances are slightly more involved, with regard to financial matters and children, it is less likely that such a package would be appropriate.
Whilst we commend the Co-Op for their headline hitting news, for many of us in the legal profession, these services have been offered for a number of years. Many firms already offer fixed fees in relation to the divorce suit itself and/or services in relation to other work undertaken. The solicitors in the family team at Clarion also offer a free initial appointment for 1 hour to all clients in any event.
Sue Mason is a member of Resolution and trained Collaborative Lawyer and is able to provide advice and assistance in relation to all matters concerning relationship breakdown. If you would like any more information, please contact on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0113 336 3340.
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