If your marriage is in such a bad state that you believe it has to end, the best thing to do is speak to experienced and skilled divorce solicitors in Surrey, who can guide you through the process, keep you fully advised of your rights, and seek the best outcomes for you and for those such as children who are relying on you.
However, there is a danger that for this, or other important legal services like wills or pre-paid probate services, you could end up going to someone who might offer an apparently more innovative, convenient and possibly cheaper service than you might get from an established legal firm, but which lacks the legal qualification or expertise.
This is no idle warning; there is rising concern about unregulated legal services being provided in such circumstances and as a result, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation, amid concerns that consumer law may have been breached in some cases.
The implications of this are highly significant. It has been claimed that some consumers have been sold online ‘quickie’ divorces that are not only coming from practitioners who do not have all the legal qualifications someone involved in such a serious situation should hope to be able to access, but that there may have been shortcomings in the sales process too.
Among these are concerns, based on initial CMA research, that consumers have been subjected to misleading advertising, contracts with unfair terms, unsuitable products, a lack of transparency over charges and pressurised selling.
Dealing with a divorce can be a very rough time in life and other tasks like will writing may be prompted by the death of a loved one, so the last thing you need at such a time is to be faced with mis-selling, excess charges you never expected, contracts containing nasty surprises or something that does not give you the important services you need.
Noting that people use these services “often at the most challenging times of their lives”, CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell stated: “These may not be frequent purchases, but they are life-changing.“
She added: “That’s why it’s so important that we investigate so that people can select the right legal service for them – for divorce or probate or will-writing – with confidence.
In the case of divorce, it may be that the legal change to permit no-fault divorce in England and Wales last year could lead some to believe the whole system is a lot simpler than it is.
However, that is not the case for various reasons, primarily the fact that not every divorce will be amicable. There is still scope for disputes, not least where issues like custody of children or ownership of large assets are in dispute, while some divorces may still be triggered by egregious behaviour like adultery or domestic violence.
In any instance, consumer law is at least as important when accessing legal services as it is at any other time, especially because the need can arise at such a difficult time of life.