Celebrity divorces are giving ordinary couples an unrealistic view on what to expect when separating, warns the Law Society.
Nigella Lawson's 'quickie' divorce from Charles Saatchi this week is highly unusual. The speed at which it is proceeding can be attributed to the fact that neither party will make any financial claims against the other. This is in stark contrast to most divorces.
The reality is that few couples are in the privileged position of Lawson and Saatchi, both of whom are wealthy enough to proceed with an undefended divorce, which doesn't involve the division of mutual assets accumulated from the beginning of the relationship.
Cuts in legal aid mean that more and more divorcing couples are representing themselves or using divorce websites, without any understanding of the process.
However, the Law Society warns that cut-price options are not always the best and can end up costing a lot more and adding to what is already a stressful time.
Law Society president Nicholas Fluck said:
'Even the most straightforward divorce cases, where a couple have neither children nor significant assets and where they both agree not to contest, can develop into complicated and stressful legal actions.
'An online managed divorce is certainly not suitable in cases where there is an imbalance of power between the parties, or if one or both of them are being difficult or withholding information.
Nicholas Fluck reassured separating couples that the legal process of getting a divorce is a relatively straightforward process.
'What is generally much more complex is sorting out the practical issues such as where each person will live, who gets what, and arrangements for any children. A family law solicitor will advise about your rights and the options available to you.
'They will also explain some of the financial complexities and will help identify the issues that the court will consider and, crucially, give you tactical advice. Seeking legal advice from a solicitor will often save you time and money in the long run.'
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