Ending the legal contract of marriage – divorce main suit
Whether you download the forms and apply for a divorce yourself or not, you will need to pay a petition fee of £550, although you may be eligible for help with the fee if you are on benefits or a low income.
If you would like a solicitor to manage the divorce process for you – draft the petition, issue it, apply for the decree nisi (first decree) and then the decree absolute (second decree) – you are looking at additional costs usually of a minimum of £600 plus VAT to £800 plus VAT, depending on the solicitor’s seniority. Costs will be greater than this if there are any complicating factors e.g. the other spouse refuses to consent to the divorce or fails to acknowledge the petition.
If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement yourselves and you simply need a solicitor to draft a Financial Remedy Consent Order for you, the solicitor’s costs are likely to be between £500 plus VAT (for a simple clean break order) and £1,500 plus VAT (where there are complex assets). The court fee will be £50.
If you would like a solicitor to assist with the exchange of financial disclosure and/or to negotiate an agreement on your behalf, you should budget for costs of up to £5,000 plus VAT and a court fee of £50.
Alternatively, if you would like to exchange disclosure and negotiate settlement proposals at mediation, your costs are likely to be around £1,200 plus VAT assuming three sessions are required. You will then need a solicitor to draft the Financial Remedy Consent Order for you (resulting in additional costs of £500 to £1,500 – see above).
If an agreement cannot be reached and you need to apply to the court for an adjudication (a Financial Remedy Order other than by consent), the court fee is £255 and your solicitor’s fees could easily reach £15,000 plus VAT assuming your case settles after a couple of court attendances. If a fully contested final hearing is required, overall costs are usually in the region of £25,000 plus VAT.
Hourly rate vs fixed fee
Please note that most solicitors will charge by the hour so the above figures are estimates only. Even those that offer fixed fees usually do so subject to caveats, so that the fixed fee is for a simple divorce only and if any complicating factors arise, an hourly rate will be charged. Therefore. if you speak on the phone or meet face to face with your solicitor on a regular basis, or send multiple emails to your solicitor, your costs will be higher.
Your solicitor should give you a written costs estimate at the outset and this should be reviewed regularly.
Should you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in this article in the strictest confidence, please contact, specialist solicitor and family mediator, Sarah Jackson, on 01225 462871 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image by Images Money under a creative commons licence