Remember there's no such thing as a "quickie divorce"
Companies promising to offer a super-fast separation from your spouse will soon be under investigation - and it's about time too!
Will writing services and probate plans are also under the cosh as they face complaints for poor service and pressured selling.
Since lockdown, companies mostly operating online have been trying to cash in
Divorce is one area that has been targeted as warring couples forced to spend prolonged periods in each other's company during covid were seeking out ways to separate quickly. But, for those of us in the real world, like us divorce lawyers who see many people fall victim to the promises of such companies, we know there is no such thing as a quick settlement.
The Competition Markets Authority (CMA) has started investigations to examine claims of a "quickie divorce" after several customers had been in contact with the organisation to say they felt they had been misled by both the simplicity of the process and the cost of separating.
Similar companies were also targeting older and more vulnerable customers that were being pestered into additional will writing services and pre-paid probate plans - where customers pay a set fee upfront for the legal process of managing someone's estate when they die, so that families will not have to pay anything else.
Will writing is currently an unregulated service and anyone can draft a document
It's led to the popping up of alternatives to law firms that simply act as "advisors" and not solicitors - and the CMA is concerned that lack of transparency and costs covered is too confusing.
Also, in the case of probate services, the CMA said there was a danger that people were being sold plans unnecessarily that could lead to delays further down the line too, leaving bereaved families possibly facing further bills or selling property.
Several complaints about such firms were about the quality of service and exactly what help was on offer - as well as a lack of detailed specifics as to what customers were paying for. The CMA found that in some instances, people were attracted by an extremely low fee - only to find that this escalated quickly once they'd signed up and services were added on.
Stories of firms using the wrong forms, entering incorrect details and sending papers to court late were just some that were coming to the surface.
The CMA were also concerned that all of these services - divorce, wills and probate - are services people need when they are feeling vulnerable, and companies are cashing in at a point when people are at the most challenging times of their lives.
It's this reason that we feel strongly that services like these are investigated fully and we're pleased the CMA has taken measures to step in.
The CMA is calling for consumers that have been used or been affected by these services to get in contact with them by 4th September.
If you would like some further advice about wills and probate or divorce, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.