How much does a divorce cost?

The cost of a divorce depends on your individual circumstances. Getting a divorce can be stressful for everyone involved, both for emotional and practical reasons. No one wants to worry about their finances when they’re going through a difficult time, so it’s important to be aware of your options. Research can save you money in the long run.

Getting a divorce in the UK

 

You can apply for a divorce if you meet the following criteria:

 

  • You’ve been married for more than 12 months
  • Your marriage is recognised under UK law

 

The person who files for divorce is known as the petitioner, while the other person is known as the respondent. If neither of you objects, the divorce is uncontested. If one of you objects, the divorce is defended. If you disagree with the divorce, you may have to pay a court fee of £245.

Court fees

 

Court fees are compulsory. They cost £550 in England and Wales and are paid by the petitioner.

 

Paying the court fee allows you to file your divorce petition, apply for a decree nisi (the legal document that says the court does not see any reason why you can’t divorce) and receive your decree absolute (the legal document that ends your marriage).

 

Consent orders

 

You and your ex-partner might agree on how to divide your assets, but this agreement is not legally binding unless a court approves a consent order.

 

A consent order is drafted by a solicitor and explains how you will split your money (including savings and investments) property and pension, as well as any arrangements for payments like child and spousal maintenance. It normally costs between £500.00 and £1,500.00, plus VAT, to draft a consent order, depending on the complexity of the document.

 

There is also a court fee of £50.00 to file the order with the court.

 

Clean break order

 

A clean break order ends all the financial ties between you and your ex-partner, even if you do not have any assets. This means neither of you can make a financial claim against the other in future. It normally costs between £300 and £500, plus a £50 court fee.

The cost of an uncontested divorce

 

The petitioner will normally pay in the region of £700 in solicitor’s fees, plus VAT (£840), plus £550 for the court fees, which equates to a total of £1390.

 

The solicitor’s fees for the respondent are normally between £400 and £600, depending on the solicitor’s hourly rate. However, they may be ordered by the court to pay some or all of the petitioner’s costs. Even if the divorce is not defended, correspondence can still become protracted.

The cost of a defended divorce

 

These cases are more difficult to solve and so it normally takes longer to find a solution, which means the costs are significantly higher. The amount you pay will depend on how long the divorce process takes. It will be less expensive if you and your ex-partner come to an agreement before you go to court. The person defending the divorce could also be at risk of paying the other parties’ cost.

Using a divorce solicitor

 

No matter how amicable your divorce is, it is helpful and sensible to seek legal advice from a family law solicitor. They will inform you of your rights and talk you through your options.

 

The cost of your fees to resolve the finances will depend on how much work needs to be done and the complexity of your assets/circumstances. You and your ex-partner might need to consider:

 

  • How to divide your finances
  • What happens to any property
  • Care arrangements for your children
  • Child support payments
  • Division of pensions

 

Solicitors can charge by the hour or offer a fixed fee. You can agree with your solicitor in advance to cap the fees or the amount of work they do.

 

Hourly rates

 

You are more likely to be charged an hourly rate if financial matters need to be resolved and it is unclear how long this process will take.

 

Hourly rates are affected by two things:

 

  • The solicitor’s experience
  • The law firm’s location

 

Generally, the higher an area’s property prices are, the more the law firm is likely to charge.

 

Level of experience Average hourly rate (UK) Average hourly rate (London)
Junior £111 £130
4+ years £180 £235
8+ years £210 £300

 

(source)

 

Fixed fees

 

Many solicitors (including Manak) offer a fixed-fee arrangement for uncontested divorces. Manak Solicitors charge a fixed fee, which can be broken down as follows:

 

  1. Our fixed fee £700.00
  2. VAT £140.00
  3. Court fee £550.00

Total £1,390.00

 

If you file for divorce based on your ex-partner’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour, you can apply for an order that requires them to pay your legal costs.

 

The total costs for the respondent will vary depending on how the law firm calculates it. At Manak, we use our fixed fee arrangement as the basis for the payment.

 

If a divorce is contested then costs will be charged at the solicitor’s hourly rate.

 

Mediators

 

A mediator’s job is to help you and your ex-partner have a constructive discussion about your divorce – normally about child custody arrangements or financial issues. Mediation is also mandatory before court proceedings can be issued.

 

The aim is for the two of you to come to an agreement, avoiding the cost of expensive court hearings. This agreement is then used to create a document called a Memorandum of Understanding, which is taken to your solicitor and used to draw up the necessary consent order.

 

A mediator will remain objective throughout the whole process. They will not tell you what to do – instead, they’ll help the two of you communicate effectively so you can make decisions.

 

The total costs depends on the number of sessions you need (three or four is the average number). Generally, mediators charge around £100 per session, although this can increase to £250 if they’re also a qualified lawyer. You should be informed of the cost estimate in your initial meeting, once the mediator has sight of your matter.

 

Manak Solicitors have close links with local mediators and will be able to refer you to suitable providers if you wish to undertake mediation.

 

Court proceedings

 

If you cannot resolve financial issues, a court application may be required.

 

The court fee is £255. From the date of application, the costs are usually between £5,500 and £10,000, plus VAT and counsel’s fees if the the matter is settled at the negotiation hearing (as the majority of cases do). These costs can be reduced if there have been Form Es and offers made previously. The costs may increase if there are numerous or complex issues.

 

If your matter does not settle at the negotiation hearing, there will be further hearings before you progress to a full contested final hearing. These hearings will cost anywhere between £15,000 and £50,000, plus VAT. Manak Solicitors will provide tailored quotes if this happens, although only a minority of cases reach this stage.

 

Manak Solicitors ensure that their clients receive regular monthly invoices so you’re fully aware of the costs being incurred on your file.

Getting help with the cost of your divorce

 

Reducing your court fees

 

You can get help with your court fees if you have little or no savings, receive specific benefits, or have a low income.

 

Savings:

 

  • You must have less than £3000 if you’re under 61
  • You must have £16,000 or less if you’re over 61
  • You must have £16,000 or less if your court fees cost between £1000 and £10,000

 

Benefits:

 

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit (and you earn less than £6000 a year)
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)

 

Low income:

 

  • You need to earn less than £1085 a month before tax if you’re single
  • You need to earn less than £1245 a month before tax if you have a partner
  • You can earn an extra £245 on top of that for each child you have.

 

Legal aid

 

You can get legal aid to pay your solicitor’s fees if there’s evidence of domestic violence, or if child abduction is involved. You may also be able to get legal aid to help with the cost of mediation. You may need to complete a financial assessment, too. Please note: this firm does not offer legal aid.

 

You can check your eligibility for legal aid on the government website.

 

Funding options at Manak

 

Manak Solicitors are able to offer funding agreements and third party legal loan facilities to clients who meet certain eligibility criteria. We will be able to advise whether you qualify for such funding options at your initial consultation.

Glossary

 

Term Definition
Assets Any financial assets you or your ex-partner may own, such as property, pensions, savings,  and business.
Clean break order A court order that ends all the financial ties between you and your ex-partner.
Consent order A court-approved document that explains how you and your ex-partner will divide your assets.
Decree absolute The legal document that ends your marriage.
Decree nisi The legal document that states the court cannot see any reason why the divorce cannot happen.
Defended divorce When one party objects to the divorce.
Mediator An objective third party who helps ex-partners communicate and make decisions about their divorce.
Memorandum of Understanding The document used by your solicitor detailing the agreement you and your ex-partner came to during your mediation sessions. It’s taken to your solicitor and used to draw up a Consent Order
Petitioner The person who files for divorce.
Respondent The person who the divorce is filed against.
Uncontested divorce When neither party objects to the divorce.

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