How much does divorce cost? The true cost of divorce in the UK (and how to keep it down)

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Originally published on 28th September 2018 at 11:20 AM

 

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Getting a divorce has an expensive reputation, but costs don’t have to rise through the roof. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep the costs down so that breaking up doesn’t have to break the bank.

How much a divorce costs will depend on which method you choose, how much advice you'll need and how amicable your relationship is.

In this post, we will run you through each available option and the average cost associated to each route, so you can make the right choice for you.

We'll also show you how you can save a significant amount of money on divorce proceedings.

How much does the average divorce cost in the UK?

The average cost of divorce in the UK can be huge. It’s estimated that separating couples can end up paying £8,000 each in legal fees for managing the divorce and financial split.

The legal cost of going to court in England and Wales is estimated at £13,000 per person outside of London, reaching £40,000 per person in London, although these costs can be higher. 

Which means the average divorce cost in the UK, sits at around £42,000 outside of London and up to a whopping £96,000 inside London.

If you put that into context, it’s the equivalent of a third bedroom, a garden or an easy commute to primary school all given to lawyers.

So, how do you get divorced without the costs spiralling out of control? 

Going to court

Going to court should be the last resort and it's the most expensive, acrimonious and drawn out option, but sometimes it's unavoidable.

It's estimated that the legal cost of going to court is around £40k per person in London and £13k per person outside of London. 

It can take approximately two years or more at times to finalise things through the court. Therefore, getting the right advice before you get to this point is crucial.

Mediation

A mediator is an independent, trained professional that helps you and your partner to work out agreements for children or finances. 

This option works if you and your ex can commuicate with each other. You need to be aware that you'll need to go elsewhere to get the legal side of separating sorted. 

Mediators normally charge from £100 an hour per person and most couples have between three and four sessions. 

On top of the mediation costs, you'll need to account for the cost of getting your agreement drawn up into a consent order and sealed through the courts.

Don't forget to ringfence money for the court fees too (£550 to file for the divorce/dissolution and £50 in court fees for the consent order costs).

Divorce Lawyer / Solicitor

The most traditional option, a solicitor or lawyer gives individual legal advice and will manage the legal process of divorce/separation as well as any financial and childcare issues too. 

This option is most relevant where there are danger signs, and you need your own legal protection. For example, domestic violence, hiding /moving of assets.  

The average cost ranges from £500 for a simple divorce but can reach around £16,000 if the process is more complex (usually because of disagreements between you). 

You will be paying two lawyers at an average of £8000 per person for divorce and finances. You also need to set aside money to pay the divorce court fee and filing fee for the consent order too.

divorce split shown with rings

How much does an amicable divorce cost?

amicable's services are unique as we're able to help with everything, including financial and childcare arrangements as well as the legal process. 

Using amicable allows you to separate without lawyers and makes the process around three times cheaper than a solicitor and half the cost of mediation services.

Our services range from £300 plus the court fees (up to £550 if you're not entitled to a discount) for a simple divorce/dissolution and ranges up to £5550 for help with everything per couple for negotiation of finances, childcare arrangements as well as the divorce and consent order documents if you have assets of more than £2million or more than one property. 

 

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Do-It-Yourself

It's possible to file the divorce or dissolution paperwork yourself using the government website if your situation is straightforward, and you're comfortable with managing the divorce process yourself. 

For the person starting the divorce, this will mean completing applications for the D8 (divorce petition), decree nisi and decree absolute. The other person will just need to fill in one form for the divorce (called the Acknowledgement of Service).

The cost of filing your divorce/dissolution in England and Wales is up to £550 in court fees. If you're on a low income, you can check if you're entitled to a discount by using our free divorce court fees calculator. If you are entitled to a discount on the court fees, make sure you apply for it before you send off your divorce petition.

If you file for divorce yourself, you will still need legal support to negotiate and legalise your financial separation and there is obviously a cost attached to this (options below). 

amicable offers a range of services to help you with your finances from a write-up service if you have agreed how you will split your finances, to a fully supported negotiation support where a more comprehensive service is required. 

If you’ve filed for your divorce online, then give us a call or view our service here.

 

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How Can I Save Money on my Divorce? 

We’ve sprinkled some tips for saving money on your divorce above, but here are some more to drive the costs of your divorce down further.

Eliminate the two most expensive costs in a divorce - lawyers and conflict

And they usually come in that order. Our advice is always – amicable is better for the kids the finances and your future. 

Getting divorced without spending unncessary cash on legal fees and ending up in court requires both people to be able to separate the emotions from the 'business of divorce'.

If you and or your ex are not emotionally ready to discuss things constructively, costs will increase, so it's worth waiting until you are both ready allowing time or seeking support from a coach or therapist.

Agree to work together to do the right thing and be amicable. If you do nothing else I promise this will save you a fortune and keep the cost of divorce low.

Start with the children and keep the focus there

Priority number one if you have children is to start with them and answer the question ‘what do our children need to be happy, successful thriving kids?’  

This is a very different to ‘ what am I entitled to?’. We always encourage parents to start with arrangements for their children and build the finances around them. 

You will save money and have peace of mind if you do things in this order.

Set clear financial goals to keep the cost of divorce low

Lots of people start a divorce without really understanding what they are trying to achieve financially. Think about how you want to be at the end of your divorce. 

Do you want to be debt free, independent, go back to work? When people set goals they are more likely to get what they want and tend to stay focused on the future. 

If you can try not to sweat the small stuff, you are likely to achieve a settlement more quickly. This is crucial as divorce is a long process and you need stamina.

Be honest and upfront, disclose thoroughly and truthfully

You can only divide things when you know what you’ve got. Make a list of all your finances and share it to your partner. This is called a financial disclosure. 

Hiding or moving assets out of the reach of your partner (for example by putting things in other people’s name) is the quickest way to start a legal war and avoidable legal costs. Don’t do it. 

If the financial disclosure isn't fully truthful, your case can be re-opened and a new court order made, even after your death.

Do your homework

Legal advice is expensive and getting divorced can be one of the most expensive things you'll have to fork out for. If you're reading this you're already well ahead in terms of understanding the costs and how to keep on top of them.

If you need support from an expert, take advantage of free consulations and be sure to ask for the best case and worse case scenario in terms of costs so you have a range to work with.

Opt for fixed-fee services like amicable's if possible as that will give you peace of mind and allow you to plan much better for the future.

Speak to an expert

We hope the advice in this blog will help you to save money, stay out of court and keep things amicable.

For more tips on how to get divorced and keep the costs low, head here for some amicable tips or book a free 15-minute call with an amicable Divorce Coach.

 

Book a free 15 minute advice call

 

If you have any questions, or would like some support, please book a free 15-minute call with one of our experts here.

 

Find the right service for you

 

About the author

Rebecca has a background in family law and has also been through her own divorce. Rebecca is fantastic at offering pragmatic advice and is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the legalities around divorce and separation.

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