The average divorcing couple spends between £17,000 and £30,000 on legal fees when separating; a process that now takes an average of 14.5 months.
For any couple, divorce can be a protracted, stressful process. ‘Our adversarial legal system works very well for corporates and companies, but for families in crisis it is a nightmare’ says Samantha Woodham, who first hatched the idea for The Divorce Surgery after an informal, practical advice session with unhappy friends headed a potentially expensive divorce process off at the pass.
Having seen, first hand, the toxicity of the end of the line – when warring couples, channelled into separate adversarial camps, have ended up in court – Woodham and Gates (colleagues at leading family law chambers, 4 Paper Buildings) feel passionately about creating a fair and honest conversation right from the start. Instead of risking a long, expensive process to get an answer at the end, The Divorce Surgery advises couples of the likely outcome – both in terms of finances and/or child arrangements – at the beginning. ‘We are simply turning the current model on its head’ says Gates, who also argues a strong moral case for a dignified, non-adversarial divorce model which can minimalise the damage inflicted on the lives of all involved.
Suitable for couples at all stages of separation, the Divorce Surgery’s business model is a simple one. Each couple has two meetings with an accredited family law barrister; a brief Introductory Session held with each party separately, followed by a Joint Advice Session in which couples together receive specialist, impartial legal advice identifying the bracket of outcomes a court would be likely to consider fair. From there, couples can decide on the best next step, be it negotiating their divorce themselves, attending mediation or instructing solicitors, armed with a time and money saving awareness of a realistic outcome.
With fees starting from £3,000 (plus VAT) per couple (with 1% of profits donated to charitable causes with the aim of increasing access to justice), the Divorce Surgery provides a high-end service for a finite and comparatively modest cost.
‘Most crucially, couples that start the divorce process with us will start from a point of togetherness and transparency’ says Woodham (a mother-of-two who is also incentivised by a desire to put both partners, regardless of who is the highest earner with access to the best representation, on a fair and even footing). ‘At the end of a court process, when all the lawyers have gone away, a divorced couple has to start talking and communicating on a practical level. We are inviting couples to start as they mean to continue; taking responsibility for their own situation and actively engaging in moving forward.’
For further information….. 0207 427 4606…..www.thedivorcesurgery.co.uk