Be wary of unregulated online divorce providers


Amanda Crowe Cropped

By Amanda Erskine

10-13% of people obtaining a divorce in England and Wales are doing so through unregulated online divorce providers according to research conducted by The Legal Services Board (LSB). The LSB’s 2016 individual legal needs survey indicated that the choice to use an online service for divorce proceedings is made by people for a variety of reasons including:

  • lower prices compared to regulated providers (E.g. a solicitor firm)
  • higher levels of transparency in pricing and
  • higher levels of innovation and service differentiation.

The LSB researchers identified five active unregulated providers operating 11 websites. These five unregulated providers are serving 23-30,000 clients annually. Their service is delivered online and is reliant on search engine optimisation and AdWords. Services range from DIY packages (average price of £36) to managed services (average price of £173). Whilst some may see the benefits to using online services for divorce, unregulated providers can pose a real risk to consumers if something goes wrong.

Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon provides her opinion on this issue:

If legal services are purchased from a solicitor, buyers can rest assured that the service is fully regulated, that insurance is in place, and that in the event that something goes wrong they have the right to redress. Unfortunately, however, it is not always clear to consumers whether they are buying from a regulated provider. As the LSB research shows, there are a number of unregulated providers supplying the same legal services as solicitors and many buyers simply will not know that they won’t get the same level of protection from an unregulated provider if something goes wrong.”

For anyone who is contemplating divorce or is going through the process already, it is important that you use a service provider you can trust. Whilst online services may seem cheaper, they can inevitably work out more expensive than using a firm of solicitors if something goes wrong. At Barker Gotelee we offer all new clients a free initial consultation where we can discuss face-to-face the details of your case and present you with a range of competitive options for your consideration.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.

Ipswich Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk