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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Divorce need not break the bank

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Many people believe divorce is expensive but it depends entirely on the context. Is it expensive compared to buying a pound of potatoes? Definitely. More expensive than a trip to the doctor? Yes (unless you go private). More expensive than the dentist? Now it gets tricky. Yes, the overall bill is likely to be higher for a divorce, but if you compare the amount of time you use that professional person’s time for, to the amount of time a dentist will spend checking your teeth, and the relative cost, divorce is probably cheaper. (I’ll leave the pulling teeth analogy there). 

Why am I making this point? Well, there has been a certain amount of discussion this last week about the cost of divorce and how it is going to get “even more expensive” as changes to the Legal Aid system kick in this time next year. Nearly all family law advice will be removed from the Legal Aid scheme. This means most people wanting to consult a lawyer in divorce proceedings will have to foot the bill themselves. The legislation will cut £350m from the £2.2bn legal aid scheme and this means, apparently, that divorce is getting more expensive. Of course the bills won’t change but it will mean that both partners need to find funds whereas previously, the lower or non-earner, often the wife, may have been able to get family law advice paid for.

I have talked about the potential pros and cons of this change previously so won’t go on about it again, other than to reiterate that all people should have access to good legal advice. 

We have never taken Legal Aid cases at Woolley & Co so the change should not affect us. However, it is the belief that divorce is inherently expensive that I want to address. The truth is it does not have to be. Yes, there are certain stages that need to be gone through, forms to be filled, papers filed etc, and paying a professional to do this does come with a cost (check out our webpage on understanding the costs of divorce). But the reality is that a divorce can be settled relatively modestly (a little over £1,200). A fixed fee divorce will ensure you know exactly where your costs are. Our video guide to keeping down the costs of a divorce might help. 

The fees only start to climb quickly when court hearings are involved and couples cannot agree on settlements. Our advice is always to do whatever you can to agree without going to court. 

Andrew Woolley
Family solicitor

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