HomeHow much is a divorce in the UK?DivorceHow much is a divorce in the UK?

How much is a divorce in the UK?

Everyone deserves access to legal advice, representation and legal services. It is a fundamental right and principle of the rule of law. Without it, individuals may not be able to defend their rights, seek redress when a relationship has broken down, or resolve legal disputes. One of the main obstacles in accessing legal advice and legal services is cost and affordability. The first and most common question a client will ask is “how much is a divorce?

The combination of cuts to civil legal aid and the cost-of-living crisis means fewer and fewer people have access to affordable legal advice and services. When legal aid was first introduced in 1949, it allowed 80% of British people to access affordable legal help for free. Following government cuts less than 30% of the population are eligible for legal aid today.

We started The Divorce and Family Law Specialists because we strongly believe that everyone should have access to the best legal help regardless of their income or financial situation. As an alternative legal service provider, we offer couples a better and more affordable way to end their relationship. All our services are provided online, and are fees are fixed. We do not ask for monies on account, charge in 6-minute units, use hourly rates or deliver monthly bills. Our fees are fixed from the outset.

How much does a divorce cost?

There are various ways and cost options to end your marriage or civil partnership.

DIY Divorce

This is the cheapest way to divorce. A DIY divorce or dissolution is where you and your ex-partner agree to divorce without a lawyer or with little or no help from a lawyer. A DIY divorce means that you are responsible for drafting the legal documents and paperwork, filing it at Court and dealing with all the correspondence.

If you decide to process the divorce yourself, the main cost, which you cannot avoid, is the court fee – which is currently £593. If you are on a low income or are claiming certain benefits, you may not have to pay the court fee. You can check whether you qualify for support on the government’s website at gov.uk/get-help-with-court-fees.

New divorce laws that came into force in April 2022 have made it much easier to get a divorce or dissolution than was previously the case. It is no longer necessary to prove fault for the breakdown of the relationship (no fault divorce or dissolution) or be separated for a period of time. Today you only need to prove that your relationship has permanently and irretrievably broken down. It is now also possible to end your relationship together by making a joint application for divorce or dissolution. If you decide to end your relationship together, you can agree to split the Court fee.

Before deciding on a DIY divorce, you should consider the following:

  • Although the legal process for obtaining a divorce/dissolution is far simpler than before, a DIY divorce will still entail many hours of completing forms, communicating with your ex, and phone calls and correspondence to and from the Court. This can be stressful.
  • People often think that the divorce process automatically resolves any financial issues or potential financial claims. This is wrong. Separate steps must be taken to resolve financial matters and ensure financial protection for the future. Without resolving financial matters arising from the divorce/dissolution, it is very easy to leave yourself vulnerable to financial claims in the future, or missing out on financial claims you may be entitled to such as pensions.

Alternative Legal Service Provider

Alternative legal service providers, often referred to as ALSPs, offer a modern, innovative, and cost-effective solution that supports the legal needs of their clients. They provide value for money and specialised legal services that complement or, in some cases, replace the previous traditional approaches.

An alternative legal service provider is not, and does not pretend to be a firm of Solicitors. An ALSP is a legal service business that provides one or more services that law firms or Solicitors would traditionally offer, but in a different way, often at a far lower cost.

We started The Divorce and Family Law Specialists as an alternative service provider. We strongly believe that everyone should have access to the best legal help regardless of their income or financial situation. Using over 30 years of experience and expertise in Divorce and Family Law as legal professionals with backgrounds as Solicitors, Mediators and Collaborative lawyers, we believe there is a better way to resolve divorce and family law matters without resorting to expensive court battles where often the only winners are the lawyers. We work jointly with couples to help them reach a better and more amicable and cost-effective way to end their relationship without going to Court and conflict.

All our services are provided online, and all our fees are fixed. We do not ask for monies on account, charge in 6-minute units, use hourly rates or deliver monthly bills. We offer greater predictability and transparency in the legal services we provide. Our services can be used to resolve a wide range of issues including:

  • Agreeing the terms of cohabitation if you plan to start living together.
  • Negotiations to help you achieve a fair financial split if you are ending your relationship.
  • Agreement as to the terms of your separation, divorce, or dissolution of civil partnership.
  • Co-parenting issues.
  • Maintenance issues.

We prepare all the documents necessary for your divorce or dissolution but you are responsible for sending the documents to the Court and checking up on the progress of your case. As divorce today is much simpler and more of an online procedural exercise, we believe that it is no longer necessary to pay a person to do simple tasks such as telephoning the Court. As the financial aspect of a relationship breakdown is often the most important and difficult to resolve, we believe you receive better value from us by receiving specialist legal advice and assistance on areas such as finances or children matters.

We charge a fixed fee of £200 including VAT for a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership. In this package we will prepare all the Court documents necessary to end your marriage or Civil Partnership for you and guide you of exactly what you need to do to file the documents with the Court. Throughout the divorce process we will provide you with guidance and assistance and be available to answer any questions you may have.

This fixed cost service does not deal with children or financial matters such as dividing assets, properties, savings, or pensions.

Instruct a Solicitor

Some Solicitors offer fixed fee packages of between £500 – £1,000, while others charge by the hour. The typical hourly rate is between £120 – £300 depending on which part of the country you live in the country and how senior the lawyer is.

A typical divorce or dissolution when you instruct a Solicitor is going to cost an average of £1,000 depending on the factors outlined above.

It is important to state that this is for a divorce only. Most Solicitors will charge on an hourly basis to deal with matters outside the divorce. To instruct a Solicitor to deal with financial or children matters you will normally have to pay a retainer (a lump sum of money on account) to retain their services and you will usually be charged in 6-minute units for each letter, telephone call and time spent on your case. Today this is one of the most expensive ways to end your relationship.

It is estimated that spouses or partners who cannot agree on how assets should be divided following a relationship breakdown can expect to spend an average of £14,500 each in instructing solicitors to reach a financial settlement. This can increase to £30,000 each if a contested case ends up in Court and a Judge decides.

How can I keep the cost of divorce down?

Decide to end your relationship amicably.

A significant step to keeping your divorce costs down is to decide to end your relationship amicably. An amicable divorce or dissolution is where a couple agrees to end their relationship without acrimony or resentment, but in an environment of mutual respect and dignity.

The benefits of an amicable divorce are:

  • It is far more cost effective – You are not each instructing your own lawyers to battle against each other. Instead, you are using one legal professional to help you find solutions you can both live with – meaning only one cost and vastly reduced legal fees.
  • It is less stressful. You decide to resolve your differences productively and without conflict.
  • There is less uncertainty, and you are in control of your future. You do not have two sets of Solicitors or a Judge deciding YOUR future. With our help you decide a legal outcome that is fair for the both of you and your family.
  • It is far quicker and flexible than Court proceedings which can often take many years due to the strict Court timetable.

Receive joint legal advice and a joint divorce

Joint divorce advice provides an inexpensive, less adversarial, and quicker solution for couples wishing to end their relationship.

Joint divorce legal advice is guidance, support and advice on the law given by one person to a couple who want to end their relationship amicably and without conflict. The advice is given to the couple on a jointly beneficial basis to assist them to find the best way to end their relationship and help resolve children and/or financial matters.

A joint application for divorce or dissolution greatly simplifies the process for ending a relationship and demonstrates that both parties agree their relationship has irretrievably broken down. As both parties complete the application together, this removes the necessity for an Acknowledgement of Service form to be served and returned, which consequently saves on time and cost.

Set clear goals and objectives.

Time and money can also be saved if both parties have clear and realistic goals and objectives. This will make any negotiations to reach a settlement far easier. Most people never take the time to decide what truly matters to them in their divorce or dissolution. By setting goals you can decide what really matters to you, and what is not so important.

Identify what matters most to you in your divorce as soon as possible. Then keep your eye on the goal. Focus on what matters and let go of what does not.

Do as much preparation work yourself.

Another way to keep your costs down during a divorce is to use the pockets of time in the divorce process wisely.

After the acknowledgement of service stage, a divorce/dissolution enters a 20-week waiting or (reflection period) before a couple can move on to the next stage.

The purpose of the 20-week reflection period is to give a couple the time to reflect on whether the marriage can be saved and whether there is the opportunity to effect a reconciliation. The 20-week period also allows time for the couple to address other issues such as finances or arrangements for children.

The 20-week reflection period is the ideal time to begin dealing with financial matters and preparing financial disclosure. Financial disclosure is the process where both parties provide details and supporting documents of their income, assets, liabilities, outgoings, and financial needs during a divorce, dissolution, or separation. Documentary evidence should include:

  • Mortgage statements
  • Valuations of properties
  • Wage slips/tax returns
  • Bank statements (both personal and business)
  • Pension valuations
  • Records of any savings or investments (e.g., ISAs)
  • Insurance policies
  • Evidence of inheritance (both previous and pending)
  • Details of any outstanding unsecured debts or tax liabilities.
  • 2 or 3 years of accounts if self-employed

Significant time and costs can be saved by dealing with financial disclosure on a voluntary basis during the 20-week reflection period.

Agree what you can as regards children and finances.

It may seem obvious but you can save an enormous amount of expense by agreeing as much as you can between you. Working with your spouse or partner means you have more control of the outcome. The most productive negotiations involve open communication, compromise, and a willingness to work towards a fair agreement.

Think about co-parenting arrangements and a co-parenting plan. Co-parenting or shared parenting is when divorced or separated parents work together to raise their children, instead of acting independently as parents. Co- parenting plans are a useful way to organise care arrangements for a child such as where and how a child will live, where they will go to school, holiday plans, medical treatment, religious upbringing, parental responsibilities and define the new relationship with the child’s other parent.

Negotiating a divorce financial settlement is never easy. But it is certainly a preferable and a more cost-effective option to a Judge who will know very little about your life, deciding your financial future. A fair divorce financial settlement is one that considers the unique circumstances of each couple’s life together. The essential elements of a fair divorce financial settlement include:

Transparency: Both parties should be honest and transparent about their financial situation, including income, assets, and debts.

Putting the children first: The welfare, needs and well-being of any children involved should be a top priority when negotiating a financial settlement.

Flexibility: A fair settlement should be flexible and consider each party’s future financial situation and needs.

Fairness: The settlement should be fair to both parties, with neither spouse nor partner being disadvantaged.

Set clear goals and objectives.

Time and money can also be saved if both parties have clear and realistic goals and objectives. This will make any negotiations to reach a settlement far easier. Most people never take the time to decide what truly matters to them in their divorce or dissolution. By setting goals you can decide what really matters to you, and what is not so important.

Identify what matters most to you in your divorce as soon as possible. Then keep your eye on the goal. Focus on what matters and let go of what does not.

Finalise finances.

Many people make the serious mistake of thinking that financial matters are automatically resolved upon divorce. This is wrong. Unless you have a divorce financial settlement in place approved by the Court, then both parties’ financial claims are still alive.

In order to ensure financial matters arising from a relationship breakdown are concluded, it is necessary to make a separate application for a financial order. This can take place by way of a Consent Order following the reaching of an agreement, or through a Court hearing with a Judge deciding on the outcome if agreement cannot be reached.

A Consent Order must be drafted in a specific form with all the necessary legal provisions to protect you and to prevent any future claims being made. Without expert legal knowledge it is very easy to draft an Order that may not provide all the legal protection you seek or have agreed. It may also cost you more money in the future to correct it.

Even if you have no assets – get a clean break Consent Order

Even if neither of you have any assets, you should always finalise financial matters by obtaining a clean break Consent Order. A clean break financial order is the simplest type of Consent Order that will cut any financial ties between you and your ex-spouse/partner now and in the future. A clean break Consent Order will provide you with a lifetime protection and peace of mind for a small cost.

How long does a divorce take?

A straightforward divorce or dissolution will take at least 6 months to complete, even if you are in complete agreement regarding the divorce. It may take longer if you need to resolve issues with money, property, or children, or if one party refuses to cooperate in the divorce process.

Frequently asked questions about divorce costs

We have reached a financial agreement between us; do I still need legal advice?

It is a good idea to seek legal help at least once during the divorce process – even if you and your partner are in full agreement. This is to make sure that your finances are split fairly, and an impartial third party can ensure you are both getting a fair deal.

What are the benefits of a DIY divorce?

  • Cost-effective as you only have the Court fee to pay and no expensive legal fees.
  • You are in control of the process and you make decisions on your own terms.
  • Simplicity and convenience.

What are the risks of a DIY divorce?

  • Possibility for mistakes – Without legal expertise and professional guidance, there is a risk of errors in the legal paperwork which may cause complications, delays, increased costs, or rejection of the legal documents.
  • Stress – Dealing with a divorce on your own can be stressful, confusing and time consuming.

Can you get a divorce without a lawyer?

There is no legal requirement to have a lawyer to commence divorce or dissolution proceedings. Since the introduction of no-fault divorce, it is now far easier to divorce without a lawyer. Most divorces are administrative and can be done online.

Will I have to go to court to get a divorce or dissolution?

No. The entire process is done online or by correspondence and you will not have to attend any Court hearings for the divorce.

Who pays the costs of divorce?

The general rule is that each person to the divorce or dissolution pays their own legal fees, and the person applying will be responsible for paying the Court Fee to issue the application.

Is it cheaper to divorce after 2 years?

As long as you have been married or in a civil partnership for at least 12 months, it is no longer necessary to wait any period of time to end a relationship. Accordingly, there is no difference in cost whether you commence proceedings immediately or wait a period of time.

Is a joint divorce cheaper?

If you decide to commence joint proceedings for divorce or dissolution it is possible for the Court fee to be shared instead of one person being solely responsible for payment. Often the Court fee is shared equally, however you can share it in whatever proportions you agree between yourselves.

Can I claim the divorce fees from my spouse?

Whilst it is usual that each party pays their own costs, in some exceptional circumstances it is possible to ask the Court to make a costs order against the other person if you have very limited means and your spouse or partner is able to contribute.

 

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The Family Law Specialists is the trading name of The Family Law Specialists Limited, a private limited company registered in England & Wales under company number 15318261 with the registered office at, 128 City Road, London, EC1V 2NX. We do not accept service of proceedings. © The Family Law Specialists. All rights reserved.

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