‘Divorce is riven with high emotion and often irrational behaviour. It is by its nature combative, but lawyers are increasingly arguing that it does not have to be this way’, noted The Times in its leading article on 30 April. The good news is that things are set to become easier, cheaper and quicker for separating families because of significant changes to the way in which couples can access legal advice.
For years, family lawyers and judges, not to mention divorcing couples, have been reporting that the established way of doing things just doesn’t really work for families, particularly where children are involved. Indeed, if you had to go out of your way to design a way of generating mistrust, high legal fees, delay and acrimony, the first thing you would probably do is sprint off to the Family Court, lawyers in tow. The high cost of legal advice is a particular problem. As our co-founder Harry Gates said in The Times article ‘the costs of two-sided litigation have risen to the point where accessing the necessary expertise – and therefore access to justice itself – is simply out of reach for many families’.
The major cause of all this is that spouses are pitted against each other by our ‘adversarial system’, where, to put it simply, the lawyers run competing arguments and the best one wins. Contrary to popular opinion, this is not the lawyers’ fault but is an unavoidable feature of the system they have to work with. The downside is that couples, particularly parents, may find themselves sacrificing what’s left of their relationship in the process. Enlightened lawyers know this.
None of this is to say that there should never be two legal teams involved. There will aIways be some cases which absolutely do need that level of attention, for example – cases where domestic violence is a relevant feature, or where there is a dispute about finances and there are serious concerns that someone is trying to conceal assets. But these are rare.
There is no getting around the fact that if you are separating you will need legal advice. Don’t forget, divorce will probably involve the biggest surrender – or gain – of assets you ever experience, so it’s important to get it right.
The change that The Times article was referring to is the increasing availability of the service The Divorce Surgery has pioneered, where separating couples can access expert advice together, from one lawyer (‘One Couple One Lawyer’). Once advised, the couple then have the tools at their disposal to settle out of court. You can find out more detail about how this works in our previous blog What is One Couple One Lawyer? Our fixed-fee service makes top-level advice accessible at a fraction of the price.
It is very encouraging that where The Divorce Surgery has led, others are now starting to follow. More family lawyers are waking up to the fact that separating couples want to ‘divorce well’, rather than simply to ‘win’, itself a dubious concept in any family setting where children are concerned. And in our experience, couples are increasingly attuned to the fact that divorce is a shared problem, requiring a shared solution.
Using one lawyer makes sense.
If you have more questions about this topic or any other legal issues arising on divorce or separation, please do get in touch as we are always happy to help. You can call us on 0203 488 4475 or email email@example.com.
For the full Times article, click here.