The key findings from the research are as follows:
- 71% of those responding were male
- 50% had an average gross household income of between £25,000 and £100,000
- 55% said that the children lived most of the time with them and 15% indicated shared parenting
About their divorce
- The four most frequently mentioned areas addressed in the divorce included: 74% other financial assets, 70% the family home, 61% ongoing financial maintenance and 53% pension
- 35% indicated that they needed ongoing legal advice after the divorce
- The majority (77%) used a solicitor, 36% indicated that they used a counsellor/psychologist and 35% used a mediator
- The two other main sources of advice included: 77% family/friends and 68% divorce web sites
Price of legal advice
- 29% said that the cost of legal advice stopped them using a lawyer and 35% indicated that it reduced the amount of legal advice they obtained
- 71% were not given information about alternative methods of divorce
- 27% indicated that they paid over £30,000 for their divorce and the same number paid £10,000-£30,000
- 93% indicated that they were not offered a fixed fee
- 33% said that it would have changed whether they used a solicitor if a fixed fee was offered
- 25% were totally dissatisfied with the legal advice received and a further 31% were dissatisfied. Only 6% were highly satisfied.
- 59% said that the cost of legal advice prevented them from achieving the best result for them and their children
Whilst the sample was small, the results show that there is a high level of dissatisfaction with solicitors’ services. Solicitors must do more to communicate about fees and alternative resolution methods and to provide fixed fee services. The need to address ongoing legal needs after the divorce was apparent. More innovative approaches to packaging and pricing legal services – and giving clients a choice and certainty – are needed. Many professional advisers do not appear to understand the range of skills (e.g. analysis, cost accounting, buyer psychology, economics, project management etc) that are required for effective pricing strategies and service development.
Commenting on the report, Deborah Jeff, Head of Family at Seddons solicitors www.seddons.co.uk said:
“There is no area of law as emotional as divorce. Your solicitor has a duty to get you the best deal as quickly and as cost effectively as possible. Most people are understandably very unhappy about their situation at the point in their lives when they have the need to consult a divorce lawyer. It’s impossible to predict with certainty at the beginning of a case how easy or difficult your partner will make the process. Your lawyer is fighting to get you the very best deal and that takes time, particularly where the other spouse is hiding assets or just refusing to comply with court orders, for example. This means costs inevitably rise in such situations, but usually so does the award for the client as a result of the action the lawyer is taking to protect them. The cases in the news recently as a result of the Legal Ombudsman’s report regarding costs in divorce cases show a lack of management for the solicitors in question by not giving clear costs estimates at the beginning, regularly reviewing them and managing their client in terms of the work they are doing and costs being incurred for matters that could not have been predicted at the outset. As long as a client is clear of what the costs are likely to be, they are regularly updated and can see there is complete transparency, they are reassured that we are very much acting in their best interests both in terms of the work we are doing and managing the costs of such work. Our policy is to be 100% transparent on costs from the outset”.
The original blog post containing a link to the survey (which will remain open and if significantly more people submit responses we will update the report):
If you would like a copy of the report please email firstname.lastname@example.org