How to keep the costs of divorce low

We’ve all heard a disastrous divorce story where the legal fees have stacked up to tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds. Thankfully, the reality is that the costs don’t spiral that dramatically for the most, and there are many ways to keep the costs of divorcing low. Miss Moneyready recently asked the amicable team for their top five ways to keep the costs of divorce low.

1. Do some of it yourself

If you feel comfortable sorting out the divorce forms yourself, you can apply for your divorce using the government website. The costs involved would be the government court fee of £550. However, before you hand this over, use this divorce court fee calculator to see if you’re entitled to a discount.

You will, however, need to consider how you formalise your financial split and make the agreements you’ve come to in regard to money, legally binding. This can be done by getting a consent order which is difficult to do unless you’re legally trained.

2. Don’t rush off to a lawyer

Hiring a lawyer is just one option of many. When it comes to divorce and separation, every situation is different; therefore, one size doesn’t fit all. We have outlined the most well-known routes below and how much they typically cost.

Going to court
Going to court should be the last resort, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Going to court is usually the most expensive, acrimonious, and drawn out option. It’s estimated that the legal cost of going to court is around £40k per person in London and £13k per person outside of London. It can take approximately two years or more at times to finalise things through the court.

Mediation
A mediator is an independent, trained professional that helps you and your partner to work out agreements for children or finances. This option works if you and your ex can communicate with each other. You need to be aware that you’ll normally need to go elsewhere to get the legal side of separating sorted. Mediators normally charge from £100 an hour per person and most couples have between three and four sessions.

Solicitor / Lawyer
A common option, a solicitor or lawyer can manage the legal process of divorce/ separation as well as any financial and childcare issues too. This option is most relevant where there are danger signs, and you need your own legal protection. For example, domestic violence, one person hiding /moving assets. The cost ranges from £500 for a simple divorce but can reach around £15,000 if the process is long (usually because of disagreements between you). Remember you will be paying two lawyers at an average of £8000 per person for divorce and finances.

3. Prioritise the emotional journey

The emotional journey is often neglected but is a key troublemaker when it comes to costly divorces. The person who started thinking of divorce first is usually ahead, which means they have had more chance to get used to the idea of separating and have started considering alternatives and solutions. The other person is usually in a different place. They may be still be coming to terms with emotions like shock, denial and anger. In this state they will find it impossible to make agreements. The more the instigator gets impatient, the more their partner digs their heels in.

Therefore, your split will be slower and more expensive if you rush the other person. If you are in this position don’t apply pressure, allow them some time to adjust. Or look at other options such as professional coaching or counselling support to help with the ‘grieving and moving on’ process.

4. Get the basics sorted

Getting a good grip on what is in your pot is a smart first step, after all, you need to know what you’ve got before you start discussing how you’ll divide it. The courts will require a snapshot, including the following:

• Assets and debts, in individual and joint names. This includes things like business assets, shares, and vehicles

• Income and savings

• The values and outstanding mortgages on any owned properties

• Pension values, specifically the CETV (Cash Equivalent Transfer Value)

By gathering the finances, you’ll be able to start having discussions with or without the help of a professional. The more you’re able to sort out yourselves, the less support you’ll need to pay.

5. Focus on the big picture

Set some goals for the future and communicate these with your ex-partner this will help you both focus on what’s important. Change the focus from ‘how do we split our stuff’ and ‘what am I entitled to’ to ‘what do we need to do to be happy in future’. If you have kids, ‘What we need to do to ensure our kids are happy’, because this can help to focus you on what’s truly important. Don’t spend your time, energy or money arguing over the past.

Using amicable allows you to separate without lawyers and amicable is around three times cheaper than a solicitor and half the cost of mediation services. For support to divorce, separate and co-parent amicably, get in touch with the amicable team for a free 15-minute advice call.

For those looking for financial support to and through divorce, Miss Moneyready is on hand to provide a financial coaching to help you establish a positive relationship with money.