For the first time ever in England and Wales, a fixed fee model covering the whole divorce process from start to finish is now available for separating couples. With this radical new way of funding marriage breakdown, pioneered by Leicestershire-based divorce lawyer, Fair Result, no fees are paid until the Final Order is signed off by the court.
Fair Result was launched by lawyer, Chris Sweetman, and accountant, Peter Marples, to change a broken system and provide a cheaper, easier and more transparent way for divorcing couples to separate. Fair Result hopes to drive down the costs of divorce so that separating couples keep more of their assets for themselves and their children.
At present, the UK divorce rate is increasing by nearly 19% per year, and the ONS says almost 45% of all marriages end in divorce, with circa 109,000 being recorded in 2019. With an average divorce costing £15,000, that’s £1.65bn going to the legal profession each year.
Fair Result quote a fixed fee at the start of the divorce process, which includes all ancillary matters connected with the divorce, e.g. property, children, pensions, businesses and all other family assets. There is no upfront cost and no repeated requests for more money if the case drags on.
The exact fee is quoted after an initial assessment of the case and expected work involved. As each family is different and the complexity of their affairs different, the fixed costs will typically range from £10,000 to £30,000, but Fair Result say its fees are typically 50% less than those charged by a traditional high street law firm.
Crucially, clients of Fair Result know exactly what their fee will be right at the start and throughout the process all the way to the Final Order. The fee also includes the cost of valuations of any assets and, if the breakdown cannot be resolved without the need to go to court, barristers’ fees.
The new model creates certainty for clients and doesn’t leave people with that dreaded feeling each time they contact their lawyer that the fees will rack up. It also means people going through divorce are not put at a disadvantage, e.g. if one party has control of the finances and starves the other of cash, the latter is not forced to take a less favourable settlement just because they can’t afford to pay escalating legal fees. No party will be financially worse off through the bullying tactics of a former partner.
One of Fair Result’s recent clients, Midlands-based Emma Gibson, says she had spent £17,000 and 18 months with her previous lawyer not even getting to the stage of knowing what the family value was worth, before engaging with Fair Result. She says she was amazed that, within eight weeks and for a fixed fee of just £13,000, her house, jewellery, holiday home and ex-husband’s business had all been valued and they were round a table negotiating the final consent order. Emma says:
“It was a breath of fresh air knowing that I would never have to pay more than the sum agreed at the start. That instantly removed a whole level of anxiety from what is an anxious and often traumatic experience by default. Going through divorce creates a huge amount of uncertainty so it’s nice to know that there can now be at least certainty around the financial cost.”
Chris Sweetman, co-founder, Fair Result, added:
“Fair Result is changing the face of divorce costs radically and we expect this model to be the norm in the next five years. People will no longer be asked for money upfront and never asked for extra fees as the divorce limps along in the hands of people who make money billing by the hour. None of our clients will ever be forced to settle for less than what’s fair just because they can’t afford escalating legal costs. That’s not right and it’s just not fair. Putting an end to protracted and ever-rising legal fees in a stressful divorce situation is a massive win for the consumer.”