A pilot scheme has been launched that provides affordable legal advice to separating couples by blending online step-by-step guidance from Law for Life’s Advicenow website and offline legal advice from a panel of Resolution family lawyers at crucial points in the process.
‘Affordable Advice’ delivers affordable fixed fees, price transparency and unbundled legal advice. This encourages early intervention and addresses the obstacles that may have previously prevented service users seeking legal advice such as affordability, price transparency and confidence in choosing a solicitor.
The online advice will be provided via Law for Life’s website Advicenow which features guides covering child arrangements, finances and financial orders. At crucial points in the process clients will be directed by the guides to legal advice provided by Resolution members on the panel to be delivered flexibly by phone, video conference or in person to increase affordability. Between the guides and legal advice from Resolution members, clients will be able to switch between navigating their own way through separation and getting legal advice.
Services and prices for clients will be fixed, unbundled and transparent allowing them to stay in control of the cost. For Resolution members involved as part of the panel, it presents a new way to reach clients and deliver services according to the budget and needs of the client.
By offering price transparency and increased affordability (prices for advice are currently set between £100 – £300) the project will provide people who would otherwise go without access to legal advice with much-needed and timely support.
Speaking at the Affordable Advice launch event, Melanie Bataillard-Samuel, co-chair of Resolution’s Innovation Group, spoke about why the scheme was needed. “When legal aid was withdrawn from the vast majority of family law cases, as a result of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), many of the consequences predicted by family justice professionals came true”, she said.
“We saw a massive rise in the numbers of Litigants in Person. At the last count, 39% of private family cases saw neither party represented, up from 14% when LASPO was implemented.
“I’m delighted that we’re able to work with Law for Life on this vital project that will go some way to addressing the challenges faced by families since the withdrawal of legal aid. We aim to lead the way in this area, create a sustainable business model that works for clients and providers alike, and demonstrate to government the positive impact early legal advice can have on families.”
Help spread the word about this innovative new service among your networks. Anyone facing issues around child arrangements or divorce should visit advicenow.org.uk/divorce, where they will find relevant guides as well as details about the service.