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How Do I get Divorced now I can’t get Legal Aid?

Good interview on the Today programme   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21999855 with Mark Harper at Withers and Christine Blacklaws from the Co-op debating the effect of the removal of legal aid from divorce cases except where there is proof of domestic violence.  There are alternatives to a litigious costly divorce, such as mediation – where with the help of a mediator, you can decide together the outcome of your divorce and get it drawn up into an order.  You can also get an online divorce, if you both agree on what should happen and avoid court altogether.  You can also get a cut rate fixed price divorce from the Co-Op (currently £200) where someone does all the paper work for you. The issue really is what happens when one of you simply won’t agree on any terms and you need to fight to get what is rightfully yours.  You may be happy to mediate, or to have a fixed fee divorce from the Co-op but if your ex partner won’t play ball, you have very little option left, but to litigate.  In those circumstances, in the absence of money to fund it, you will simply have to represent yourself in court and learn as you go along.  There are difficulties with this.  There are many cases which need the expertise of a good lawyer, advising you on pension rights, maintenance, your home and many other worrying and pressing issues.  What if you think your partner is hiding his or her true income, or  that he or she simply won’t come to the table to negotiate – mediation won’t be able to help with that and I suspect a fixed rate divorce won’t budget for something that might take months to uncover and require on-going legal advice.   There are some brilliant mediators out there – and I recommend many regularly and there are other methods of doing things more cheaply, but if your ex won’t play ball – then the full effect of the removal of legal aid, will start to weigh heavily by clogging up the courts with people representing themselves and by justice not being done because proper advice isn’t able to be given.

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