Divorce & Separation – Deciding Your Approach
Many people are confused about the divorce process. It is natural to be stressed at the end of a relationship and to feel apprehensive about what lie ahead. The actual act of divorce, to end a marriage, can be stressful, costly and lengthy.
However, there are ways in which you can minimise the stress, cost and time involved. It has to be said that the route to be taken will vary widely dependent upon the situation. Here is a guide to help you understand the options available and the associated costs.
The partner asking for the divorce is known as the ‘petitioner’. The other partner is known as the ‘respondent’. There is more information about terminology, grounds and procedures in our Divorce document.
The factors which can make the divorce process more complex are…
- There are children or money issues (e.g. a split of assets) involved.
- The couple are not agreed on the settlement.
- The case involves complex issues (e..g money abroad or held in trust).
Our hourly rate is £200 plus VAT at 20% per hour. This is to reflect the level of experience and specialisation available at Harney and Wells. We offer a one hour “one off” consultation at £100.00 plus VAT at 20% which includes a letter of advice. We are able to offer a fixed fee for a straightforward divorce (see below). For all other cases our hourly rate will apply. We will always give you an estimate of what we consider the costs in your case will be to enable you to budget. We offer a half hour consultation without any obligation and would hope to advise you on the best option as a result of this so please call us on 01273 684666, email us or contact us to make an appointment.
If you and your ex partner are agreed about everything, and there are no children or money issues involved, then there the process is quite simple. In these straightforward cases we are able to offer a fixed fee. Our costs are £400 + VAT plus the court fee of £550 (there is no VAT on court fees). Our costs for the respondent are £260 + VAT (and there are no court fees).
We are able to assess and offer legal aid. You have to be assessed as being financially eligible so need to be on a low(ish) income. You also need to produce documentary evidence that you are at risk of domestic abuse and/or a child is at risk of abuse. This documentary evidence has to be provided by the Police; through a Court Order; through Social Services; or the involvement of a health professional. If you are eligible for legal aid then there will be no charge. If you are not eligible for legal aid there will be a charge for the initial assessment interview which is £50 plus VAT at 20%.
Children & Money Issues
Where an application is being made for cases involving children the cost is £550 + VAT. For cases involving money issues then the cost is £1300 + VAT. In both cases, there are also court fees of around £300. These costs assume that the case can be finalised after a single court hearing and for this the couple must be agreed on more or less everything before starting the process. If the couple are not agreed and the Court has to decide then there will be more hearings so both cost and time will escalate.
We will discuss with you costs if you are not the party making an application or if your case is more complex e.g. it involves applications both about children and money.
If you wish to represent yourself in court but need legal advice during the course of proceedings then we would charge at our hourly rate of £200 + VAT for advice meetings with one of our family law solicitors. Obviously, if you fail to bring a factual matter to our attention then we will be unable to advise you on the consequences.
Reaching an Agreement
In all cases, the key to reducing stress, time and cost is to ensure that you have reached agreement on matters with your ex partner before you go to court. If the two of you have not reached agreement then we would urge you to use mediation or collaborative law to agree a settlement before you go to court. We can cover this in our initial consultation.