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"Is 'By Personal Touch' the Future of Fixed Fee Online Portals?"

Source SKY News - dated 06 April 2024

One important thing missing from this insightful and great piece of journalism, is 'By Personal Touch'; a groundbreaking fixed fee online Portal, that completes the process for parties that have reached a divorce financial agreement by mutual consent.

The portal gives both parties a simple to use shared space to complete their own Form A, D81 and ‘court ready’ draft consent order. Once court documents are completed by both parties, we then invite them to a personal online meeting to conclude matters and talk them through the court lodging process. Moreover, our technical team is readily available to support clients through the process and manage any portal queries.

Link below for more information

At Davis & Co of Fairford, we are always on the look out for innovative ways to 'take the heat' from Divorce and financial settlement to save our clients, stress, money and time.

Please read the artical below -

Weekend Money: The price of getting divorced

A couple could pay up to £2,600 for an uncontested divorce and between £10,000 and £30,000 if it is a contested case. Read this and more in Weekend Money, and we'll be back with live Money updates on Monday. Leave a comment on anything we've covered below.

The price of getting divorced

By Bhvishya Patel, Money team

We're all familiar with the stats - nearly half (42%) of all marriages in the UK end in divorce.

But unless you've been through it, you'll probably be surprised at how much getting divorced costs. 

It varies depending on where you live and how you do it, but according to MoneyHelper a couple could be looking at between £1,300 and £2,600 for an uncontested divorce and between £10,000 and £30,000 if it is a contested case - for example, you've failed to reach an agreement and the case is taken to court.

The cost can climb even higher if the case drags on.

Family court backlogs mean a quick resolution is almost unheard of - with Ministry of Justice figures showing the average divorce takes more than a year to complete.

So what do you need to know?

This table shows some of the main costs to consider when getting a divorce.

Can you do it for less?

Although the process had become a lot more straightforward with the introduction of no-fault divorces, some solicitors still take advantage, says Desmond O'Donnell, a partner in the family team at the legal firm Thomson Snell & Passmore. 

"I say to my clients, you are more than capable of applying for a divorce without a solicitor - the court fee is £593. You get other solicitors who say 'let me do it for you' because they can charge the client for that and then costs go up to £600-800."Desmond O'Donnell

He says it is better to settle a separation outside court because taking a case to court "racks up costs". "You get some solicitor firms who see it as a business rather than what is best for their client," he says.  "If you settle a case quickly you don't make money, so they almost encourage their client to go to court."

He recommends looking at other avenues such as mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and the process of "one couple, one lawyer" to avoid being "at the mercy of the court".

Less lawyer routes

With mediation, through which a couple resolves issues with a mediator, "emails are not flying back and forth" between solicitors and matters can be resolved "within hours", Mr O'Donnell says. Another way of handling a separation is arbitration - a private system in which spouses choose an arbitrator to hear their case in their chambers.

"It's having a judge who has the time to give your case the attention it needs and because it is much quicker, there is less correspondence so it is going to be cheaper," Mr O'Donnell says.

'Collaborative' lawyers

He also draws attention to collaborative law, which involves specially trained solicitors meeting for roundtable meetings for the benefit of the family.

"As there is more realism brought into it and we're not trying to bluff each other, very often we agree on things outside the traditional court system more quickly and cheaply than the traditional system," he says.

Sharing a solicitor?

Opting for "one couple, one lawyer", with the solicitor acting for both spouses, can cost £3,000 to £4,000 plus VAT - so "much cheaper", Mr O'Donnell says.

But this only works if the couple are on amicable terms.

Finances are not sorted with divorce

A common misconception is that divorce and finances are dealt with in the same processes - they are not, says Zoe Rose, senior associate at Hedges Law.

"I often say to clients you probably won't need a lawyer to help you with the divorce application because if you can do online shopping you can do the relevant online application with the court directly."Zoe Rose

But, she says, with discussions about finances and children people "should be spending some money getting some decent legal advice".

"You do the simple paperwork and come to me for the strategic stuff about what happens with assets and what happens with your children and what that looks like," she says.

How you communicate with your lawyer is key

How people communicate with lawyers is important in keeping costs down, according to Ms Rose.

"If you send your solicitor two emails and then automatically ring them, your solicitor won't have had time to look at your email and won't give you the nuanced advice you want," she says.

"Whereas if you send them a couple of emails and then book a slot later, what you will get back out will be much better."

Here are Ms Rose's other tips to keep fees down: 

  • Only speak to your lawyer about legal advice as you are charged for the time you spend with them;

  • Avoid asking the same questions more than once;

  • Keep ongoing correspondence to a minimum and if you want to ask if an email has been received, your solicitor's assistant is the best person to answer this.

'Train wreck break-up prompted me to set up amicable divorce service'

In the course of writing this article, we came across Kate Daly, a relationship counsellor and the co-founder of Amicable. The company first offers a 15-minute free advice consultation and then follows this up by helping couples decide how to divide their money and property, or with arrangements for their children.

Once they have a financial agreement, this is drafted into a consent order and sent to court for a judge to review.  It means no lawyers are needed and, the theory goes, results in an amicable divorce.

"I came up with the idea for this business off the back of my own awful train wreck divorce - it was really terrible," she says.

"It cost huge amounts of money and it created untold emotional damage, even now it still plays out in my family. A horrible divorce is like the gift that keeps on giving - it just stalks you through all life events.

"When I went through mine, I thought 'what have I done wrong to create this awful situation where we are both spending so much money and ended up in such a bad place?'"

Most couples could do a simple divorce - that is, one with no finances to sort out - themselves, she says, but it is "trickier" to do a consent order and "definitely worth getting legal advice at that point".

"We're on a mission to change the way society thinks about relationships ending and to get to a point where we can say love can end and that doesn't have to be a fight, and it doesn't have to be a failure," she says.

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At Davis & Co of Fairford, in partnership with By Personal Touch, we were well ahead of the curve on this one. We worked alongside mediators and the like to ensure parties did all they could to avoid


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