Just Divorce says just go online
Following on from our YouGov/Epoq story on Tuesday about online legal services, we have news of a new online divorce service: www.justdivorce.co.uk This is an end-to-end, litigant in person and fully online divorce service for consumers who wish to manage their own uncontested divorces. However justdivorce.co.uk also gives the consumer the added security of a fully qualified solicitor overseeing the entire process. The new online service fills a gap in the market for a fully regulated, fixed price service as an alternative to the current unregulated paralegal services that promote packaged divorce deals.
Justdivorce.co.uk takes a two pronged approach. It provides consumers with the background information they need to decide if an uncontested online divorce is right for their circumstances and explains the legal processes and paperwork required to obtain a divorce. It also leads the client through an easy-to-follow series of questions, the answers to which populate court forms and letters with all the appropriate information. These documents can be checked by the client, approved for submission by the solicitors’ caseworker, and downloaded anywhere in the world via the internet before mailing to the appropriate court. Emails are sent to clients explaining exactly what documents are required at each stage of the process and what court fees will need to be paid at that time. Justdivorce.co.uk also offers complementary services such as financial clean break orders, divorce decree searches, and marriage certificate translations.
The new online service has been developed by Bryan Reed, a consultant solicitor at family law firm Josiah-Lake Gardiner LLP, who is a member of the Family Law Panel and the Resolution group of family lawyers. He explainst: “The first place that everyone turns to for information today is the internet, so it makes absolute sense that certain legal services can be provided via the internet too. We are confident that as one of only a handful of e-legal providers that are genuinely online, from the beginning of the process through to Decree Absolute, we will be able to remove the stress, worry and delay that can occur when someone takes the decision to manage their own divorce.
“We believe that we are giving our clients peace of mind when they need it most, filling the gap between ‘traditional solicitors’ handling divorce cases on an hourly rate and paralegals providing an unregulated service promoted by an online brochure site. The legal profession should embrace the opportunity presented by advances in technology to offer a new kind of commoditised, yet entirely secure, legal service. Enabling clients to manage their own simple undefended divorces online does not mean that advice will not be sought in more complex cases, nor that referrals will decrease. What it does mean is that consumers have a choice about how they access legal services and interact with the court system,” says Reed.
The Orange Rag asked Justdivorce.co.uk how they differentiated themselves from other players in the market and they replied… We believe that the key difference is that having decided to proceed with a self managed divorce, the litigant does not have to wait for court forms to be sent to them. They answer questions about their marriage and individual circumstances posed by the Justdivorce.co.uk online questionnaire. The back engine then populates all the necessary documents with those answers. They are checked by the Justdivorce.co.uk team of solicitors and then returned to the litigant via email or accessed online.
Other features of Justdivorce.co.uk include:
Free registration: Before using the online solicitor-led service, litigants register for free, which is a very simple process, using the litigant’s preferred email address. No payment is made until the litigant has completed the questionnaire, and then confirmed that they want to go ahead and order the divorce service. Online questionnaire: After registration, the litigant completes the appropriate online questionnaire. As it is unlikely that the litigant will have all the information they need at their fingertips, the system allows them to add, save, return and add again as often as they like, when they like.
What does Justdivorce.co.uk do? It advises litigants every step of the way. It prepares all necessary court forms and covering letters for litigants to download, sign and send to the court. It explains exactly what they need to do, and when to do it. It tells the litigant what court fees are payable and it explains how to deal with any queries raised by the court. It sets out the legal effect at each stage of the process, and tells the litigant what additional documents they will need to provide.
Email communication: Almost all of the contact with the litigant from Justdivorce.co.uk will be by email and online. When draft documents are ready for checking, Justdivorce.co.uk will tell the litigant by email and they will be able to access and amend them online. When final versions are ready for litigants to sign and send to the court, Justdivorce.co.uk will tell them by email and they will be able to download them securely from the Justdivorce.co.uk website.
Litigant in Person: Justdivorce.co.uk enables its clients to represent themselves stress-free as a Litigant in Person in any court proceedings. Justdivorce.co.uk will not contact the court, the litigant’s spouse, or any other third parties directly on their clients behalf. To avoid delays, it will, however, arrange for the necessary papers to be sent directly to Justdivorce.co.uk from the court at the appropriate time.
What does it cost? Most solicitors calculate their charges by applying an hourly rate, which means that clients won’t know what the final cost will be until the end of the case. Justdivorce.co.uk’s charges are transparent, fixed and include VAT so clients know exactly how much they will need to pay before they order a service. There are no hidden extras and the final price will be confirmed before they place an order. An Undefended Divorce costs £259 if there are no children under 18.