If you’re hoping for a straightforward answer to the question ‘how much does a divorce cost?’, then you’re about to be sorely disappointed. The fact is, the sums involved can vary considerably from case to case. However, this guide will talk you through some of the basics and should provide you with a clearer idea of how much a legal separation from your partner may cost.
One area that is straightforward is your court fees. To get a divorce or to dissolve a civil partnership, you or your ex-partner will have to pay this fixed cost. In England and Wales, the sum currently stands at £410. Bear in mind that legal aid is no longer available to help cover this expense unless there has been domestic violence or child abduction.
Many people need legal guidance and representation when they are separating from their partners, and it is possible to pay for this assistance by the hour. However, another option is to opt for fixed-fee arrangements. Specialist solicitors such as The Law House offer these capped agreements, and they can provide you with added reassurance that you won’t exceed your financial limits.
Bear in mind that the simplest divorces, whereby both parties are able to agree on a settlement, can be significantly cheaper than complex cases that end up being contested in final court hearings. Also, the sums that solicitors charge vary and it’s important to choose a firm that operates a simple and transparent pricing policy. This way, you will avoid nasty surprises further down the line.
The DIY route
Some couples try to save cash by opting for do-it-yourself divorces, meaning they have little or no help from a solicitor. However, these DIY legal splits only tend to be a viable option in simple cases where couples do not want to make any financial claim on one another. They may not be suitable for you if you and your ex-partner have children under the age of 18, or if you have a valuable home, pension or other shared financial assets.
Also, while DIY divorces may save you cash in the short-term, they could cost you dearly overall. Without the relevant legal guidance, you might fail to achieve a suitable settlement and this could have a negative effect on your long-term finances.
Ideally, you should be able to cover your solicitor’s fees from your income or savings. However, don’t panic if you’re not able to raise enough money this way; there are other options available. Some law firms allow their clients to pay their legal fees once a divorce or dissolution has been finalised.
Alternatively, it might be possible to get your ex to agree to pay your fees. While you may consider your former partner to be an unlikely source of financial aid, it’s worth noting that people sometimes offer money in this way to help ensure that divorce cases are resolved quickly.
Although unlikely, it is also possible that a court will order your former partner to cover your fees. If this happens, the sum will be taken into account when a financial settlement is reached.
Another option is to borrow money from friends or family members. If you do this, be sure to draw up a formal financial agreement so that the court will take your loan into account when considering how to divide your finances between you and your ex. Personal loans and credit cards can also be used. Of course, if you intend to borrow money, whether from a relative, bank or any other source, you should be confident that you will be able to pay it back.
It can be impossible to predict exactly how much divorces will cost at the outset of the proceedings. However, by being savvy, you stand a better chance of keeping your finances in check.