Going through a divorce can be a sensitive and stressful experience. At a time when you are keen to move on with the next chapter of your life, the promise of being able to get the divorce through quickly can seem appealing.
For many clients, however, the speed and simplicity that online firms promise quickly turns into more hassle and heartache. In this article, we look at why choosing an unregulated provider to carry out a ‘quickie’ divorce may not be such a good idea.
What is a quickie divorce?
A quickie divorce, as the name suggests, is an online divorce that claims to offer ‘no paperwork’ and ‘no stress’. In recent years, such services have grown more popular, as cost-of-living concerns have pushed some people towards seeking cheaper divorce options.
Misleading and inadequate
Unfortunately, though, these online divorces are not what they seem. Many are finding that choosing a quickie divorce is the source of a great deal more stress.
A flurry of complaints from dissatisfied customers has led the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to begin an investigation into quickie divorce firms. The investigation is focused on two areas: misleading claims about the simplicity of their process and prices; and inadequate quality of service.
People choose a quickie divorce thinking that everything will be simple and they will save some money. Sadly, many couples are finding out that is not the case.
The initial quote may seem cheap but a lack of transparency over what is included can soon result in a bill far above the advertised rates. Similarly, it is not always made clear by these online companies which aspects of the process they carry out, leaving some couples unsure whether everything has been dealt with.
Furthermore, the CMA is concerned that customers choosing quickie divorces are receiving an inadequate quality of services. Examples of customers’ complaints include their firm using the wrong forms, entering incorrect details, sending papers to the court late and not communicating efficiently with customers.
Taking the ‘cheap’ option is ending up costing some customers more, while costly legal and administrative mistakes can end up causing delays to the divorce process.
At a time when certainty and simplicity are key, online divorce firms are leaving many confused customers in the dark through poor communication.
And it’s not just divorce
As well as causing complication with the divorce process, online firms often try to convince customers that they need to pay for extra services. One area that the CMA highlights as a particular concern is will writing, which is not currently regulated.
The CMA is investigating whether online firms are:
- Misleading consumers through advertising that offers an extremely low initial fee for advice but does not indicate that final costs can increase significantly;
- Using potentially unfair contract terms, such as exclusions of liability and terms which automatically appoint the firm as executor (often for a fee);
- Using pressure selling techniques and coercion on vulnerable customers.
Put your trust in the legal experts
For something as important and sensitive as divorce, it is best to do things properly. That’s why we aways recommend that you seek full legal advice throughout the process.
At Woodfines, we are specialists in making sure that every detail of your divorce application is taken care of. Our friendly team of divorce experts are always happy to offer help and advice. Should you need assistance with divorce or any other family matter, please get in touch with a member of the Family team.