How Much Is A Divorce?
Sorry, I don’t love you any more – but how much is a divorce, can we afford it?
Surrey has one of the highest Divorce rates in the UK, where around 42% of marriages now end in divorce. The often high costs of legal fees involved in a divorce have been well documented recently; the law watchdog has said that spiralling costs and poor quality legal services are adding to the misery of divorce.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
To allow you to spend your money wisely, it is important to understand what the Divorce process involves and what your options are. Since Legal Aid has all but disappeared in England and Wales from April of this year, many people have predicted a significant increase in DIY divorces. Type divorce into Google now and you will find companies offering divorces for as little as £37. This quick divorce fee quoted does not include the court fees of £550.
If you are a divorcing couple who rents property, has no children and few assets, the question how much is a divorce can be answered fairly easily and can be divided up relatively simply and amicably – such as “I’ll take the books and you take the CDs” – then the easiest and quickest route to dissolving your marriage could be a low-cost website. But, if you have issues concerning children, own a property, or have significant assets, these websites are almost certainly not the right route. What many people do not understand is that to actually get divorced is relatively straightforward. One of the spouses, the petitioner, fills in a divorce petition, available for free on the government web site, and relies on one of five grounds for divorce. At this point there is a court fee to pay of £550. If you both agree to the divorce, the petitioner can then apply for a Decree Nisi, an official certificate that says the Judge agrees you can divorce. Six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi the Petitioner can apply for a Decree Absolute, the legal document that confirms your marriage has ended. You are then divorced.
Simple and inexpensive, but there could be pitfalls to a quick divorce if you do not receive appropriate advice. For example, if there are pensions held by one or both parties you would be ill advised to apply for Decree Absolute until a financial settlement has been reached and a financial order made by the court.
The more contentious part of the divorce process involves the division of the matrimonial assets, such as property, savings, shares, insurance policies and pensions. Sometimes there are private limited companies involved. This does not start to fall into place because you are divorced. There are different issues to consider and each divorce is different because of the personal circumstances and finances of the parties. Any break-up is an emotionally charged situation and sometimes agreeing the simplest issues can prove difficult. Most solicitors charge by the hour, which can be anything from £200 to over £400 per hour and it is inevitable that costs quickly mount up, especially when emotions are running high. However, this is where sensible legal advice and an understanding of what you can and cannot gain will help you focus on dealing with any outstanding issues in the most constructive way.
Until you are sure what the matrimonial assets consist of, and what they are worth, you cannot begin to consider what will amount to a fair settlement. This is not always a straight forward 50/50 split. People tend to measure the fairness of a split of the matrimonial assets in terms of percentages, but this can be misleading, especially where there are children involved and one of the parties in the marriage has not worked for a long time.
Paul Prentice has over 20 years experience and understands the need to tailor the advice he provides to each individual client. Paul offers a variety of services depending on the requirements of each client. Some clients want to hand over all the problems and the division of finances that divorce brings with it to a lawyer. However, where the cost of using a solicitor to do everything cannot be afforded or a client would prefer to do some of the work themselves then this can also be arranged. The advice could cover initial advice on the law and procedure, drafting the petition and helping to ensure that all the matrimonial assets have been made clear before settlement negotiations commence.
Furthermore, until a court has approved that the terms of a financial agreement are fair, (by making a court order) any financial agreement reached, even though it may have been acted upon by the parties, could still be revisited years afterwards and the terms varied by the court.
Breaking up is rarely easy, but knowing your rights and getting appropriate advice beforehand as well as understanding that just as the cheapest solution is not always the best, neither is the most expensive, can make the process much less difficult.
For further information or to discuss particular issues email Paul Prentice at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him at any time on 01483 237 989. Paul offers a free, no obligation first telephone appointment.