A simple internet search reveals a plethora of cheap divorce options from as little as £37. The services are seemingly cheap, straightforward and easy to use.
Of course the headline figures do not include the court fee, which is currently £550, but that aside, will an online divorce work out cheaper in the long run?
To answer that you first need to consider the divorce process. The divorce itself is fairly straightforward. What complicates it are ancillary factors, like deciding on how finances are to be dealt with and what arrangements are best for any children involved. Without court orders in place these elements can be challenged at any time, even after the divorce itself is completed with the Decree Absolute.
If the financial and emotional balance in the relationship is equal and there are no conflicts over arrangements for any children involved, then these issues could be dealt with amicably. But if there is imbalance then it is likely that any agreement will prove to be inadequate in the long term. An obvious example of imbalance is when one partner is the main breadwinner and the other the home maker. Without some objective input it can be difficult to see what a fair split will be.
The reality is that if you divorce without legal advice and assistance there is a higher chance that you will not reach an agreement that will stand the test of time.
A solicitor will always advise that a divorcing couple obtain a clean break order. This means that the finances are dealt with once and for all: there is a clean break and each party can move on without the fear that their ex will be able to make a further claim on their finances.
Consider the situation where one party has a sudden financial windfall after the divorce. They may have won the lottery, sold a property for a large financial gain or received an inheritance. If there is no clean break agreement in place then their ex could make a claim. Whether or not the claim is successful, the cost of defending against it will far outweigh the original savings made on expert divorce advice at the outset.
Of course you could apply to the court for a clean break order yourself, alongside an online divorce. But what if the finances were not examined fully and objectively; what if you have missed something? For instance you may not have considered future income in the form of pensions and your ex may have a much greater share. With a clean break order in place you may be barred from obtaining a pension sharing order at a later date. Even if you do, the legal costs are likely to be much greater than if you had sought legal advice for your divorce in the first place and avoided the problem.
Possibly but there is no certainty. If your divorce is completely amicable and uncomplicated by financial imbalance, pensions, business considerations or any other complex finances and you have no children to make arrangements for, then a cheap online divorce may offer some saving. Otherwise you are advised to seek some legal assistance to make sure you get the job done right first time with no expensive repercussions. When we meet with clients where the Court has queried documentation lodged incorrectly our fees could be higher to put things right than they would have been to help throughout.
We offer a free initial consultation so that we can give you clear and tailored guidance to help you make an informed choice.