'Couples parting ways could find it more difficult and more costly to divorce from next month when legal aid is removed for most civil disputes.
In April, £350m is due to be cut from the £2.2bn legal aid bill, meaning most divorcing couples will need to seek alternatives to the lengthy and costly court process to resolve their finances; legal aid will only be available to those cases which involve domestic abuse or violence.
This comes as figures from the Office for National Statistics show there are now an average of 120,000 divorces annually, and 42 per cent of marriages end in divorce.
"The big winners in divorce settlements are often the divorce lawyers," warns Patrick Connolly from adviser AWD Chase de Vere. "Once a solicitor is involved, costs can soon spiral upwards."
A report from the Legal Ombudsman published last month found that high fees and poor service have made divorce the most complained-about area of the law.
The "charge-by-the-hour" regime adopted by many high-street legal firms has come in for criticism given that costs can range from between £100 and £500 an hour plus VAT.
"Charging by the hour is simply not in the customer's best interest," says Roger Ramsden from Saga Legal Services.
That said, while all of this may make for gloomy reading there are options for those looking to divorce without breaking the bank.
There are now a host of new services available to divorcing couples including Intelligent Divorce which offers a fixed-cost alternative to paying for a solicitor; this service includes legal advice from specialist barristers. The cost is £599 for one person or £499 each for a couple.
"Our service allows couples who are still communicating with each other to take control of their own divorce settlement, avoid the lengthy court process, and save on unnecessary solicitors' fees," says Mahie Abbey, a family lawyer from Intelligent Divorce.'Read the full article here.