The Office for National Statistics’ latest civil justice statistics suggest Scots are searching for cheaper, quicker and more amicable ways to separate, with fewer Scots using the courts to divorce.
According to the latest figures, only 76,769 civil law cases were initiated across the Court of Session and sheriff courts in Scotland between 2014-15, the lowest since records began and 42% lower than 2008-2009.
Consensus Collaboration Scotland, a network of lawyers, family consultants and financial experts that specialise in out of court divorce settlements, point to an increase in collaborative divorces, rising legal costs, greater access to cheaper online divorce services, as well as changes in marriage and cohabitation rates, as contributing factors in the decline of court divorces in Scotland.
Anne Marie Douglas, a member of Consensus Collaboration Scotland and a partner with Inverness based family law firm Cowan Douglas, comments:
“We have seen a rise in the number of alternative dispute resolution methods over the past few years, including the number of collaborative divorces. More couples are choosing the collaborative approach to separation or divorce in order to minimise the conflict, stress and emotional damage that a court case can cause.”
“Court divorces can be lengthy, expensive affairs, so if couples can find common ground and resolve matters out of court, they will do.”
But many couples are turning to technology to avoid the courts and resolve divorces quickly and cheaply, commonly known as the ‘quickie divorce’. According to research conducted by Divorce Depot in 2013, the number of people using smartphones to initiate a divorce increased by 50% between 2012-2013.
In more recent years, a surge in divorce apps and online tools has made the process of getting divorced even easier. Apps such as Amicable, Wevorce and iSplit Divorce claim to resolve divorces in
a matter of weeks for ‘tens of pounds’ per month. The Government also recently introduced regional Divorce Centres in 2015, designed to simplify the process and speed divorce cases up.
Finding quicker and easier ways to divorce is certainly gaining momentum in the UK, but according to experts, seeking legal advice is still the recommended approach.
Anne Marie continues:
“Nothing compares to professional legal advice. Ultimately, families should do what’s right for them and their children, in the most effective way, to ensure they have the happiest future. Quickie divorces are in the spotlight and they may seem like great shortcuts, but many have hidden costs, particularly relating to organising financial or child care arrangements, which can result in expensive mistakes.”
Collaboration is a method that helps couples come to an amicable divorce settlement, avoiding costly court battles, giving you control over decision making, all with the expertise from experienced family lawyers, financial specialists and family consultants who are only interested in getting you the best outcome.
If you are looking to avoid a court divorce, speak to one of our local professionals for advice on your options before you get started.