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£9.99 divorce app advocates face-to-face legal advice

18 April 2011

A family solicitor at a 12-partner North London firm has launched the first divorce application in Britain.

The £9.99 app, called ‘Divorce?’, was produced by developers HG Apps Store, whose chairman Andrew Muir had instructed family lawyer Peter Martin, head of family at Finchley-based OGR Stock Denton, to act as mediator in his own divorce.

Martin, a trained collaborative lawyer, agreed to provide the legal content for the app and said the aim was not so much to make it easier or cheaper to divorce but to make it easier for people contemplating divorce to find information about it before embarking on the process.

“Non-confrontational approaches advocated by Resolution are having positive results in the way divorces are handled but people often still walk into a solicitor’s office as the first step in the divorce process,” Martin told Solicitors Journal.

“By that stage things tend to escalate and people only get out of litigation at the other end when the divorce is pronounced by the courts,” he continued.

The app, Martin explained, should primarily prompt people to consider whether their marriage cannot be salvaged. Only if they chose to proceed with divorcing would the app then guide clients through the process including how to choose a lawyer.

But Martin, who is also an examiner for the Law Society’s family law panel, said his app would not replace face-to-face advice.

“Online services should be banned,” he said. “My experience of clients is that except in the most simple of cases – for instance where there are no children, the marriage is short, and there are no huge emotional and financial issues – clients need personal advice and support. Even if it’s just one session when they check exactly what is being proposed and what’s there for both of them.”

Martin added that the app might help raise the profile of his firm but expected little direct business in return. “Clients in mid-range divorce cases tend to choose a local solicitor and it’s unlikely they would travel especially to us,” he said.

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Company, Consumer, and Contract Divorce