So within a few months of launching Separate Together, I (yes, it’s Siobhan writing this blog) was featured on Kochie’s Business Builders.
In the introduction, David Koche described Separate Together’s offerings as a “quickie divorce”. I was a little bit taken back because at the time, I didn’t intend to offer couples a quick-out to their relationship. Clearly my pitch was off.
At the time of filming, Separate Together was set on only working with those couples who had a separation agreement and merely wanted a lawyer to prepare the paperwork to make it official (legal), in a simple, fast and affordable way. This is still very much the case but “the pitch” is nowadays more refined (thankfully).
These days, I often get asked by clients, colleagues, other lawyers, industry professionals and friends, ‘Siobhan, what do you think of XYZ offering a quickie-divorce/divorce-hotel/divorce-in-a-day scenario?’. I see it from time to time family law firms and lawyers purporting to be “innovative” with a new approach to helping separating families stay out of the court system.
My answer as to what I think about these firm offerings is (sigh), complex.
On the one hand, the quickie-divorce offering by a firm demonstrates on some level hopefully, that they understand that their clients value timeliness when it comes to finalising their separation or divorce. I think this is good—having insight into your clients’ needs is vital.
On the other hand though, I think it can be rife with ethical lawyer and moral problems to offer a quickie-anything. It seems self serving and self interested for (some) law firms to be offering this sort of scenario when there are other cheaper options to help separating couples reach an agreement together (I refer to these in more detail below).
Human beings have feelings and we buy on emotion. If it means that an individual can help their former partner, themselves or their child in moving on after the family reorganisation, then of course people will buy into the idea of a quickie-divorce/separation.
This has its risks though.
I worry for those separating couples who opt into a pressure cooker situation where they spend a large amount of money on a day or weekend with lawyers to try and reach a separation agreement together. The question of duress—where some people may feel that they ‘didn’t have any other choice’ and the feeling of disempowerment in and over the process, worries me. Buyer’s regret springs to mind.
I know separated couples who, at the time of finalising their separation, valued being able to do it quickly, rather than fighting over receiving more of ‘the pie’. For some, they’ve come to realise now that this was to their detriment.
Look, the real risk is for those separating individuals and couples where the lawyer or lawyers have not spent time with them seriously laying the ground work in preparing for the quickie-divorce.
Preparation takes time. Everything takes time—it takes time to gather the necessary information, it takes time for your lawyer (if you choose to use one) to give you advice and it takes you time to not only absorb that advice, but to also grieve the relationship that once was.
So, what are the take homes?
- Don’t necessarily buy into the idea that faster means better or cheaper. Have you heard of the Project Management Triangle? You can only have two of the three things—fast, cheap, good. You can have fast and cheap, but it won’t be good. You can have it good and cheap but it won’t be fast. You can have it fast and good but it won’t come cheap.
- There are other alternatives to reaching a separation agreement with your partner that don’t necessarily involve heavy lawyer involvement and expense.
- Getting legal advice early on is important and helpful in shaping your separation agreement discussions and your way forward.
I referred to other options that you’ve available to help you reach a separation agreement together, which don’t include heavy lawyer involvement. These options include mediation, kitchen table negotiations and if you were lawyer so inclined, solicitor-aided mediation and collaborative family law. Download Chapter 1 of my book, Splitting Up Together, for free which covers the differences between these options.
At the end of the day, the ‘quickie divorce’ sounds very sexy. When consider the timeliness of getting your separation or divorce over and done with, I’d encourage you to weigh it up against the quality of service and the cost to you—emotionally and financially (not just now, but in 12 months, two years’ time and longer).
If you’re interested in information about the separation process and legal advice to help you to reach a separation agreement with your partner, then make a time to speak with our experienced family law team for an appointment.