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Family law: Law firm offers free divorces

A Devon-based law firm has angered local Church leaders by coming up with a scheme to attract new clients: free divorces.

Follett Stock Solicitors has offered its free divorce service through its website, Twitter and on flyers to all clients who apply before 30 June.

They claim that, by giving free divorce services, the firm is helping "people who want a divorce but can't afford it".

Their advert reads: "Do you need a divorce? Would you like a lawyer who is straight-talking and hates jargon? Would you like a FREE divorce?

"If you answered YES, YES, YES then Follett Stock is the law firm for you. Instruct Follett Stock's Exeter office by June 30, 2011 for your divorce and Follett Stock will do it for free."

Father Robin Eastoe, rector of the Heavitree team of churches in Exeter, opposes the idea of free divorces saying that it will encourage people to rush through a divorce without trying to reconcile their marriage.

He said: "[Divorce] should be a couple's own decision made at their own pace. Saying 'come on do it quickly as it's free' puts an awful lot of pressure on people at a sensitive time when they are hurting.

"I don't think people are blasé about divorce but often a little bit of sensitive counselling could save a lot of marriages."

But Follett Stock argued: "We don't break people's marriages up. The divorce process is the same if you are a millionaire or on legal aid.

"It still takes four to six months and there are still rules in place to make sure it is all done properly."

Follett Stock's offer only applies to the paperwork part of a divorce. It does not include court fees, defended divorce proceedings, coming to agreements concerning finances and children, replacing lost documents or finding missing spouses.

A divorce can be very expensive. It has been estimated that the average legal fees for a divorce can be £1,800. However, when other expenses are taken into account such as setting up a new home, losing personal savings etc. the average cost shoots up to £39,000.

It is possible to carry out divorce proceedings yourself and when the split is amicable and there are no children, this can be a cheap way to do it. However, if the split is messy you may find you have to represent yourself in court. It is advisable to seek some kind of legal advice before carrying out a DIY divorce.

Related links:
Read more on this story (Daily Mail)
Read 'Five things you can do to help your divorce case' (FindLaw)
Find local divorce solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)