Not every divorce has to be messy and expensive. While the process is often stressful and upsetting due to the huge change it represents in the lives of the parties involved and the sense of loss that often accompanies it, there are clear steps available for you to take that can make the experience easier to deal with.
Of course, divorce proceedings can be made much easier from the off by both parties agreeing to the split from the start and working together amicably to ensure that everything runs smoothly and quickly. A divorce does not need to go before the court if this is the case, though a hearing may be called at the court’s discretion if they believe that anything requires ironing out.
Speed and straightforwardness are always beneficial when it comes to a divorce, as it’s often the case that complications result in higher expenses and fees. But how much do divorces actually cost? Read on for more information.
The First Steps
The first thing you need to do once you’ve decided to go through with a divorce is to file a divorce petition. This needs to be signed by yourself and your partner in order for it to be considered – plus, if adultery is the reason behind your split, then the person with whom it has been committed may need to sign also. The total cost for filing this petition comes to £550.
You may also need to apply for a financial consent order. This usually costs between £50 and £100 and is a legal document in which the financial agreements you have set out together can be documented. However, if you are unable to come to an agreement on this subject, you may need to apply to the court to make decisions for you. You can do this by way of a financial order, which usually costs £255.
This is where expenses can vary between cases. Whatever your circumstances, it is definitely a good idea to hire a legal specialist to help you work through the details, from the division of finances, assets and property to child custody matters. Lawyer fees can vary hugely, with some offering fixed fee services while others tot up the cost of their involvement bit by bit. According to the Independent, as of January 2018, the average couple spends over £14,500 on legal assistance as part of a divorce. Of course, on occasions where divorces have had to go to court, these fees keep rising – along with the other unique costs involved in a legal battle. Exact expenses depend on the complexity of the case – for example, whether the court will need to help you come to a decision about more than one property or the custody of children.
The cost of taking a case to court starts from a fixed application fee of £385 and rises from there. It could reach up to £40,000 or higher for those based in London. Divorces in Scotland and Northern Ireland involve different processes, and so costs often differ from those taking place in England.
There are options such as “DIY” divorces which keep costs down, but can be risky as failing to invest in proper legal representation can see one party losing out or falling victim to an unfair settlement. You could also choose mediation, where a legal specialist sits down with you and your family and talks through your options, helping you to communicate properly and working towards a solution that is fair to everyone. This tends to be a cheaper and less stressful alternative to taking the matter to court and, in fact, you may be recommended by officials to attend mediation sessions as part of divorce proceedings anyway.
If you earn under £15,000 a year, the court may be willing to waive divorce fees under a special exemption scheme. The same applies if you are on certain benefits, so it’s definitely worth looking into these options for your peace of mind and to help you avoid significant expenses.
The best way to save money and to ensure the best outcome for your divorce is to make contact with a trustworthy and affordable legal specialist. Leading solicitors firm, St Helens Law, can look back over almost twenty years’ worth of experience within family law and will be able to support you throughout the process with sensitivity and strength. Check out our Family Law FAQs page for more information and call us today on 01744 454433 for a free consultation.