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Cost of divorce in the UK

Understanding the costs of divorce

From a legal perspective, divorce is simply the ending of a contract in law. It involves the completion of certain items of paperwork which must be filed with the courts. The courts levy a fee for handling this paperwork, currently £550. There will also be the cost of any advice you obtain from a lawyer and their help in completing the divorce paperwork.

Lawyer assisted divorce

There are several options for a lawyer to help you with the divorce process.

You may choose to have a Woolley & Co lawyer complete all of the relevant paperwork and apply for the decree nisi and absolute on your behalf. In this instance we offer a Fixed Price service as detailed below:

If you are divorcing someone: If you initiate the divorce you will be known as the petitioner. As you are initiating the divorce you will be asked to pay the Court fees as well as your lawyers’ fees. At Woolley & Co, solicitors we do this work for a fixed price which includes the Court fees and VAT.

If someone is divorcing you: If you are the respondent in a divorce (ie your partner has initiated divorce proceedings) and where the divorce is uncontested by you Woolley & Co offer a fixed price to handle the divorce on your behalf.  This price includes our fees and VAT on our fees. You do not have to pay Court fees, this is payable by your spouse who has initiated the divorce.

How much does a divorce cost?

Michelle Webley,
Practice Manager

Divorce without a lawyer

You may feel able to complete the divorce paperwork by yourself and can now do so online on the gov.uk website. Sometimes individuals start this process and realise they need expert help with the paperwork, or advice on the consequences of their divorce (especially when it comes to finances). In this instance Woolley & Co can assist on a pay as you go basis, providing input as and when you need it.

Splitting the costs

Most people pay these costs as individuals, although some couples going through a divorce choose to split the costs (the court fee and any solicitor fees) between them.

Cost of divorce summary

  • Online divorce – no lawyer cost, £550 court fee, but remember you will still need advice on your financial settlement
  • Online divorce with lawyer assistance – from as little as £215 +VAT to have a lawyer on hand to answer your questions and provide advice. For the petitioner there’s also the £550 court fee
  • Fixed price divorce – full lawyer assistance to obtain your divorce, £725 +VAT and Court fee for the petitioner and £500 + VAT for the respondent (some couples choose to split these costs between them)

Beyond the divorce – negotiation and agreements

Very few cases, however, involve only the divorce paperwork. In most marriages there is a marital home, money in joint accounts, savings, pensions held by one or both parties, and other financial issues which need to be agreed on. These can include division of household furniture, who will keep the family car, pets and so on.

In a marriage in which children are involved, there is also likely to be agreement needed as to which parent the children shall live with and contact arrangements with the other parent.

If both parties can agree on how to split finances your lawyer will ensure your agreement is in a legally-binding document (a consent order) that both parties sign for the court’s approval. Most people will need help from an experienced divorce lawyer to assist them in knowing what to negotiate for and how to negotiate to obtain the best possible outcome.

If both parents agree arrangements for the care of their children, there should be no need to involve solicitors or the family courts. However, if there is a disagreement between parents it is helpful to obtain specialist family law advice at an early stage.

Can’t agree about finances?

In some cases, a couple cannot agree even with the help of their lawyer and decide to let the court deal reach a conclusion.

It is worthwhile understanding at the outset that, in addition to your lawyers’ fees for advice in this area, you will need to budget anything between £3,000 to £4,000 for the following:

  • Court fees.
  • Valuer’s fees in respect of the matrimonial home, other properties, policies and assets.
  • Fees paid to pension fund managers for transfer value figures and other calculations.
  • Fees paid to banks and credit card companies for copy statements, if not available.
  • Fees paid to the HM Revenue for copy tax documents, if not available.
  • Fees paid to independent financial advisers for advice on how to manage your financial affairs.
  • Fees paid to actuaries to calculate pension sharing figures.
  • Fees for a barrister to represent you at any hearings.

Need further help or advice?

Take advantage of an initial telephone chat about your situation and the options available to you, call Woolley & Co on 0800 321 3832 to speak with one of our lawyers.

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