What is Family Law on Demand?
For many people today the internet is their first port of call for advice and assistance, even in legal matters, including divorce. A quick Google (other search engines are available) will produce any number of sites telling you how to do your own divorce. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. They’re certainly cheap, but if they go wrong they will undoubtedly cause you to pay far more in legal fees to unravel than it would have cost to have the job done properly in the first place.
We recognise that for some people the DIY approach is their only option, so we’re trying to ensure that we can support clients through the divorce process by enabling them to dip in and out of using our services when they are needed. Our Family Law on Demand service does exactly what it says on the tin. You only pay for the time we spend working for you as and when you ask us to. This might mean that you come to see us for some initial advice about a family law matter, or you ask us to draft a particular document or check something that you’ve drafted yourself. We simply deal with self contained, one-off tasks, rather than assuming conduct of the entire case. This means that we don’t communicate with your former partner or their solicitors – unless you ask us to. We’re just here for you, ready to help as and when you need us.
The limitations of Family Law on Demand
The obvious benefit of this type of service is that it allows specific legal tasks to be undertaken at a much lower cost than if we were dealing with the entire case, from start to finish. However, it’s important that those using our Family Law on Demand service understand that. So, for instance, if you ask us to draft you a document then we will ensure that the document does what you have said you want it to and that it’s correctly worded. We won’t however give you advice on the contents of the document or how it is likely to operate unless you specifically ask us to and pay for us to do so.
The idea of these “unbundled” legal services is still pretty new and can lead to misunderstandings about the service being provided. A recent case is very helpful in clarifying the responsibilities of solicitors in providing advice in this way.
It involved a solicitor who was asked to draft a ‘consent order’. This is a document resolving financial issues on a divorce which when approved by a court is then binding on both parties. In this case, the solicitor was presented with a proposed consent order which the court had already rejected. She was asked to amend the order so that it would meet with the court’s approval. That was the limited basis of her role. The order was redrafted and approved by the court. The client later regretted the order and brought a professional negligence claim against the solicitor, alleging that she had been negligent in failing to advise her on the effect of the order. That claim was rejected by the court on the basis that the solicitor’s role had been limited to drafting the order, not advising on it.
So, if you ask us to do a particular piece of work for you under our Family Law on Demand scheme, we will make it absolutely clear from the outset what we will do, and what we won’t do. If you ask us to draft a document that reflects an agreement you have chosen to enter into, that’s what we will do. If you want us to advise you on whether the agreement is advantageous to you we will happily do so – but that will require us to have significantly more information than we are likely to have if we’re just putting the agreement into writing and this will be reflected in the fee charged.
Call us to find out how we can help
If you’re not sure what is covered by the work you’ve asked us to do, just say so. We will confirm in writing what we’re being asked to do so there is no confusion. Our aim is to ensure that you can get help when you need it and to the extent you need it. While the internet can be a wonderful resource it doesn’t offer the answers to all our problems. There will be documents that are so important or complex that they will require individual input from a specialist solicitor rather than being downloaded from a generic bank of precedents on the web could be totally unsuitable and damaging.
And if you’re still not convinced that the internet isn’t the answer to all your prayers, well think of it this way. You can download an internet guide to removing your teeth without the aid of a dentist – but would you seriously consider it?
For more details of our Family Law on Demand funding option in Family and Divorce cases give us a call on 01271 372128 or send an email to [email protected]