Divorce is a word that is replete with emotional turmoil. It can evoke a range of emotions, from relief to shame to contemptuous vitriol. Nobody gets married thinking they are going to get divorced. Nobody really wants a divorce; they just want to be free.
Author of Eat, Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, wrote: “The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn’t want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences…”
Unfortunately, divorce involves emotions between two or more people, as well as financial situations. It pulls the carpet away from under the feet of so many different people, that it is not a state that can be entered into lightly.
For many people, the obstacles to getting a divorce and escaping are founded on financial issues. Simply consulting with a lawyer about getting a divorce will initially cost hundreds and will soon enter into the thousands of pounds as proceedings continue.
In 2012 the parameters around which legal aid in the UK could be awarded were severely restricted – as a result, many people were caught up in a situation where they couldn’t escape from the confines of a toxic, often abusive, marriage simply because they had no other financial route to go.
However, there are legal aid alternatives which give people the opportunity to pursue a pathway to freedom without the prohibitive cost of using a commercial solicitor.
Seek Out A ‘Not For Profit’ Solicitor
Since legal aid was cut right back, a growing number of more empathetic solicitors have set up law firms under what is known as a Non-Profit ‘Alternative Business Structure’ – in other words, they do everything that a normal firm of solicitors will do, just charge you a third of the price.
Check Your Workplace Benefits Package
Does your workplace subscribe to an Employee Assistance Programme or workforce perks package? It is worth pursuing this as many packages include access to discounted professional services.
While the focus of an Employee Assistance Programme is usually on both providing mental health support as well as offering discounted gym memberships for physical health, many also offer access to financial and legal help, as well as support and advice in relationship and family matters.
Do You Belong To A Trade Union?
If you are a union member through your employment status, it is also worth asking your union representative if the union offers subsidised legal advice. Similarly, if you are a member of a professional body.
They may not have the precise legal expertise in divorce to help you through the whole process, but they may be able to sit down and clarify what your position is and take an overall assessment of your rights and responsibilities.
Consult Your Local Citizens Advice Bureau
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau has a plethora of information that it can give you free of charge – but it cannot do the work on your behalf. If your situation is complex, then the CAB will be able to signpost you to a suitable professional.
Submit Your Own Documents To The Court
If your situation is simple, if both parties are in agreement and there is no rancour between you, if this is a truly amicable divorce between two individuals who want nothing from each other except a friendly parting of ways, then you can apply for your own divorce by submitting documents direct to the courts. Simply fill in the divorce and civil partnership dissolution forms that you can find online. No solicitors are required.