Well, the system is stacked against us. All of us. It’s complicated, outdated, and inefficient, which is both time consuming and potentially very costly. No, this is not some conspiracy theory. This is just how it is:
The divorce system encourages fighting.
At its core, divorce is a lawsuit: X versus Y. And lawsuits are fights. Even the formal documents that frame the issues say X versus Y. The notion of you against your ex is present every step of the way. And the divorce system itself offers very little guidance or resources geared at conflict resolution or alternative ways to resolve issues. If you’ve consulted a lawyer, explained your case, and tried to resolve things out of court, you may feel like litigation is your only option.
Furthermore, law is confusing and often contrary to the way people handled financials and other affairs during marriage. So, it requires a steep education process — and that’s only if you have the time or energy. It puts people who don’t have the space to educate themselves at a disadvantage, which often invokes fear. And fear leads people to do irrational things — like hire the most aggressive lawyer in town. You know, the one with a home page photo of a kid in the middle and each parent on either side pulling the child in opposite directions. Yeah, you know the one.
The divorce system is procedurally confusing.
No matter how organized or on top of things you may be in your regular life, there is no easy way to get through divorce. First of all, self-help resources are woefully inadequate and not set up to help the thousands of people who need it. Moreover, the assistance offered is often minimal. It might entail help with identifying forms and filling them out but no legal advice or strategy is given.
But more vexing than that is the procedure is insanely complicated.
Legal regulations stifle independence and discourage innovation.
Divorce courts need lawyers (or paralegals and assistants working under the supervision of lawyers) to provide help with legal documents and forms. The trouble is not everyone needs a lawyer or can afford to pay one. In fact, 85% of all divorces include at least one party who is self-represented. So, many people who can’t afford a lawyer turn to do-it-yourself (DIY) services.
The problem with many DIY services is that they do no more than provide you with forms, leaving you to figure out the rest. But the forms are complex and confusing and written in legalese (i.e., complicated and unfamiliar legal language that can leave your head spinning). Courts frequently reject documents for failure to prepare the correct forms (or fill them out completely. Moreover, forms are worthless if a person doesn’t know where to file them or how to coordinate service. Plus, consumer-facing areas of law like divorce require participation of the court and navigating the clerks and courts is an art form. While it might not necessarily be rocket science, it is an acquired skill. They are often worse than the doctors receptionist.
Navigating the 20+ forms often required for a divorce, trying to understand how and when to file and serve each document, and negotiating with the spouse is a lot to take care of. So, many people just give up, which leaves them vulnerable to the consequences of not filing for divorce properly. In the end, somebody who thought they were going to save time and money by taking care of the divorce legwork themselves has to hire a lawyer anyway to help sort out the mess.
Legal regulations also do not encourage innovation, which could make the process easier and help lower the costs of divorce. It limits opportunities for new ideas or outside insights as lawyers are forced to not only practice law full time but also run companies. Many lawyers cant think outside the box if they have to invest their own money and time (something they are already short of). Lack of innovation keeps the old, inefficient practices in place.
Lawyers can complicate the divorce process.
Lawyers often have a bad rap. There are plenty of jerk lawyers out there who ramp up cases just to get as much costs on account as possible. Because of that stigma, consumers often fear them and what they might do to create conflict where there wasn’t any before.
Even lawyers with good intentions can be quite paternalistic, pushing their clients into what they think is best for them instead of really hearing their clients’ needs and goals. Some clients, for example, want to make concessions they would otherwise not make for the sake of keeping their relationship somewhat amicable. After all, co-parenting is a lifelong endeavour and it will be easier on everybody to keep things with their ex as peaceful as possible. They can’t do that if their spouse hates them.
Some lawyers let their egos get in the way of doing what’s best for the client. They may have a personality conflict with the other lawyer or feel triggered by a client’s relationship with their ex (e.g., if they are being controlled or manipulated). They may connect to it personally because they’ve been through something similar and so they let their emotions take over instead of letting their clients guide them. This isn’t to say lawyers shouldn’t advocate for their clients but they must do it after carefully considering strategy and their clients’ “need to haves” versus their “must haves.”
Lastly, sometimes lawyers do not appropriately manage their clients’ expectations. They lead their clients into believing that they are entitled to something “under the law” when there is no basis for that expectation. This isn’t to say that people should avoid lawyers but working with a traditional law firm can have its challenges — and with challenges come increased costs and inefficiencies.
The legal system is unreasonably inefficient.
For the most part, lawyers get paid by the hour. If they get to bill clients for every phone call or court appearance, what is the incentive to resolve conflict or prepare forms efficiently? The problem stems from our legal education in which we get (for the most part) zero help on how to run a business and/or how to run an efficient case. For instance, having to show up at court just to obtain a child custody mediation date or a date for a settlement conference is highly inefficient. These activities not only cost time (a client having to take time off work) but also hundreds of pounds in legal fees to have a lawyer show up and do nothing substantive.
Courts do not have enough resources to help the millions of people who need legal help. They are decades behind in terms of technology.
Navigating Divorce Differently
At Fair Result we do thinks very differently from the traditional method. We don’t bill by the hour, and we will give you a fixed fee for our services right at the start of your case. We file all the documents for you and handle all the correspondence with your ex-spouse. What have you got to lose by making contact with us to see how we can reduce your costs by approximately half from the traditional model and only pay once the settlement is lodged and approved by the court.