In a business model somewhat foreign to attorneys here in the United States, Riverview Law, a corporate services firm specializing in fixed-fee billing, has rolled out a new divorce service with fixed-fee packages to minimize the unexpected legal costs of divorce. However – one aspect that should be familiar to stateside lawyers is that the top quality legal service supplied in this situation is unavailable to those without the means to afford it. The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch reports that the service will include access to the nation’s best divorce attorneys at guaranteed prices; but only if your assets are worth an excess of £500,000.
The stated purpose of the fixed-fee pricing packages is to ensure that both spouses have direct access to top attorneys, without depleting a large sum of the couple’s combined assets. The services are offered in four different stages, with prices that vary depending on the experience of the assigned barrister. There is a fixed-fee for the initial conference, which starts at £1,000 for an appointment with a junior barrister. The first court appointment begins at £5,000, with a final dispute resolution hearing starting at £17,500. Other fixed fees will be quoted on a case-by-case basis if and when a trial on the merits is necessary. There is also a “pre-divorce” advice package, where a pre-nuptial or mid-nuptial agreement is discussed, starting at a fee of £2,500.
Riverview Law boasts that it is the first UK legal business to publish and guarantee the legal cost of a divorce. “Lawyers tell clients that it is impossible to know the cost of divorce, but we believe it can be done with complete transparency and predictability,” says Riverview COO Adam Shutkever. Although the fixed-fee model of divorce legal fees is certainly groundbreaking, it seems as though a key demographic is being overlooked. Those who could certainly benefit the most from affordable divorces typically don’t have assets large enough to qualify for these packages. Perhaps if this business model catches on in the UK (or even the US) we shall soon see firms that cater to the lower economic classes, offering affordable divorces for those who truly can’t afford them.