Co-op is the most recent supermarket brand to enter the family law market, with its claim to be able to complete a divorce for less than the cost of a family weekly shop. In these straitened times in which we are all now living, and with the scaling down of Legal Aid in connection to divorce and separation, it would certainly seem to be a timely entrance to the family law market.
However, before we all start adding "divorce" to the shopping list, along with "cornflakes" and "bin bags", it certainly pays to take a closer look at what you actually get for your money.
Co-op actually uses the term "DIY" divorce on its website, and the whole process is made to sound extremely straightforward. £99 for the paperwork, an additional £50 per hour if you would like a lawyer to check your documents prior to submission and then £150 per hour for any legal advice thereafter. There is also a hotline you can call.
From reading the information on the website, you could be forgiven for thinking that it is a straightforward way to tackle divorce, and it would be best to leave all those avaricious family law practices well-alone. Who needs face-to-face contact?
We think that everyone needs face-to-face contact when discussing such a life-changing process - you need to meet and talk with a person. Only then can all the necessary details come into play, as speaking to a lawyer who understands the process thoroughly will make you aware of your options in a way that simply ticking boxes cannot.
The Co-op's approach does indeed look straightforward, but if you have children, money and any assets to take into account then you will soon find extra costs and time unavoidably incurred. Whilst the Co-op will gladly act for you in resolving any such matter this will involve moving on from the DIY divorce, and at such a point you will then start to be charged by the hour as you would by any other solicitor. It is not exactly clear as to whether you will be guaranteed face-to-face contact either.
Our advice is, as always, to meet with any prospective adviser and decide for yourself if you wish to use their services. You need to give yourself the best possible chance of obtaining the most informed, thorough and effective legal advice available to you.