“The court system is in crisis,” declared Stowe Family Law Partner Graham Coy during an appearance on Sky News today.
Graham had been invited onto the show to discuss new findings by insurance giant Aviva which suggest that the typical divorce now costs an average of £14,561 per couple, a 17 per cent increase over the last three years.
Graham pointed the finger at the sharp cuts to legal aid introduced by the then coalition government in 2013.
“Many factors have contributed to this increase in costs. The scandalous abolition of legal aid is one. It means that people can either try to pay for representation themselves, when some cannot afford it, or representing themselves, which is very difficult. Not having access to a lawyer means that many are missing out on alternatives to the court such as mediation, collaboration or arbitration.”
All this, said Graham, has led to a court system which is “slower than it should be and in which people are spending more time going to court as a result.”
“The government and judges should look urgently at court system as it has become unaffordable for many. Increasingly it seems as though only the very wealthy can afford to go through the process.”
Set against this, Graham explained, is the fact that Britain has one of the world’s highest rates of divorce.
“In this country we have a very high divorce rate. Perhaps many as one in two marriages will end in divorce within 12 years. So many people are going to encounter these problems.”
Good advice from a family lawyer can significantly reduce the stress associated with divorce, Graham continued, and can help steer away from expensive and slow courtroom confrontations into speedier, less costly alternatives like arbitration.
Relationship breakdown in this country is estimated to cost £48 billion a year. “That’s almost the whole Brexit divorce bill – every 12 months!” he observed.