Slater & Gordon has halved the price of getting a divorce, in preparation for the introduction of new laws allowing for “no fault divorce” next month.
The law firm said it would cut fixed fees charged to those seeking a divorce from £1,020 to £540, plus court fees.
The decision comes as the government readies itself to introduce new laws on 6 April, allowing married couples to divorce without a reason.
The new laws will allow married couples to get a divorce without citing one of the five official reasons for a divorce, including adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation with consent, or five years separation without consent.
The new laws are set to streamline the divorce process and allow for more amicable divorces between couples.
In a statement, Slater & Gordon said it believes the new divorce laws will “lead to divorces being less contentious, allowing spouses to concentrate on resolving their matrimonial finances and child arrangements in a more constructive manner.”
The firm said that a Slater & Gordon survey of 1,000 divorced couples showed that two-thirds (68 per cent) of couples said they would have opted for a no-fault divorce, if they had had the option to do so.
However, Georgina Chase, head of family practice at Slater & Gordon, warned that no-fault divorce laws may mean some couples will seek to undergo a divorce alone, as she argued Slater & Gordon’s decision to cut its fees is aimed at encouraging clients to take up advice.
“We support the introduction of the new no fault divorce, making the process less acrimonious and encouraging a conciliatory approach to the family law issues which stem from divorce,” Chase said.
“We want to ensure that our clients still have access to expert legal advice in going through such a challenging time of their lives and our concern is that many couples will attempt to ’go it alone’ and finalise their no-fault divorce online without obtaining the legal advice that they need in respect of the connected matrimonial finances and arrangements for children. Making our fixed fee divorce service more cost effective will facilitate this.”
The introduction of no-fault divorce laws is set to come as the biggest shakeup to divorce laws in England and Wales for more than 50 years, after the government introduced the Divorce Reform Act in 1969.
The 1969 Divorce Reform Act allowed couples to file for divorce if they had already separated, by putting in place two extra official reasons for a divorce, including separation for two years with consent, and separation for five years without consent.