About this guide
We use the term “partner” to refer to the person you are separating from, although you may already consider them your “ex”.
If at any time you’d like to speak to a solicitor, please call us on 01978227280 and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.
1. DIVORCE: FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
A divorce or separation can be tough, and often one of the most difficult aspects is reaching an agreement on financial matters.
At QualitySolicitors, we can ease these difficulties with our range of legal services, aimed at helping you agree on how to divide and manage your finances. Our experienced solicitors will ensure you are treated fairly and provide all the advice and guidance you need to plan a secure future for you and your family.
Whether your main concerns are about your home, your children or how best to divide joint assets, we have the knowledge and expertise to find the best solutions for you.
In divorce cases, we’ll ensure your arrangements are agreed by the court, so you know any agreements made with your partner cannot be broken.
With our Free First Advice and no hidden costs promise, we can answer your immediate questions and provide estimated costs and timescales before you decide the best course of action to take. For confidential advice about financial arrangements, call us on 01978227280.
FREE FIRST ADVICE
Our free, first advice phone call lasts between 10 and 15 minutes, providing confidential advice on how we can help you with the legal process of divorce.
ASK THE LEGAL EXPERT (£99)
This introductory, face-to-face meeting with one of our legal experts is confidential and lasts around 45 minutes. It is a chance for us to answer any questions and concerns you have about how the law will apply to your situation. You’re under no obligation to go on to use our full services.
We recommend this service if you are still unclear on your options after our Free First Advice.
2. HOW MUCH DOES A DIVORCE COST?
The cost of divorce varies by case, depending on solicitor fees.
Basic costs begin with a £410 court fee to start the divorce proceedings (payable by the ‘petitioner’ only). This is followed by a £255 court fee to issue financial proceedings, if you cannot agree financial arrangements between yourselves.
Your solicitor’s fees will be an additional cost to the charges outlined above and will vary depending on the complexity of the case. If there are no disputes over money or children, fees can start from around £150-£200.
For more information about our services and the costs involved, our free initial enquiry will provide an estimate of our fees.
Can I claim Legal Aid?
Since April 2013, Legal Aid for divorce has been withdrawn from most divorce cases in England and Wales, although it is sometimes available to help with mediation costs. You may qualify for Legal Aid if you have suffered from domestic violence or abuse and may be entitled to a reduction in court fees if you are on benefits or have a low income.
Looking for advice about Legal Aid?
Call us on 01978227280 and we’ll connect you with a local lawyer for Free First Advice.
3. KEEPING DOWN THE COST OF DIVORCE
The best way to minimise the cost of divorce is to agree on as much as possible directly with your partner and, where possible, avoid using a lawyer.
However, even if you both approve of the divorce and resulting arrangements, it is advised that you use a lawyer to draw up a final, formal document. This ensures the two of you are fairly covered and commit to your individual promises.
Mediators will add additional costs to your divorce; however, if you can’t finalise arrangements between the two of you, this is still a more cost-effective method than taking matters to court. You must consider mediation before you can go to court.
The dangers of ‘DIY divorce’
We recommend you seek legal advice before finalising any agreement with your partner.
This ensures you are protected, should your partner decide to go back on their word and leave you at a disadvantage.
Worried about the cost of divorce?
To connect with a local lawyer to arrange Free First Advice, call us now on 01978227280.
4. DIVORCE AND CHILDREN
Sorting any practical matters related to a divorce can be tougher if you and your partner have children.
Try to agree on maintenance payments and fair arrangements allowing you both to spend time with your children. If you’re struggling, you may wish to consider employing a mediator to help.
Although there is a fee for this service, it’ll cost less than going to court. There are also emotional benefits to reaching an agreement through mediation, and outside of a court room.
The timing of your divorce can have an impact on personal and capital gains tax, so you may wish to seek financial advice on the best time to transfer any assets, or sell property or shares.
Can we avoid using lawyers when making arrangements for finances and the children?
If you and your partner can reach an agreement about finances and arrangements for your children, it’ll reduce the need for legal involvement.
We do recommend you use a lawyer’s services to put these arrangements into a formal agreement and ensure you’re both protected. A consent order can be agreed between you both and sent to the court for approval.
The court may not approve a consent order if it feels the agreement is unfair in some way.
Once approved, the court will still need to handle the official divorce – bringing your marriage to an end – though, if this is not disputed, you’re not likely to need to attend court, which keeps costs to a minimum.
Looking for legal advice about any aspect of divorce?
For Free First Advice from a local lawyer, call us now on 01978227280.
5. DIVORCE FINANCIAL SETTLEMENT
Once you and your partner have decided how to divide up financial assets, it’s important you formalise these decisions.
Don’t rely on verbal assurances; instead, have a lawyer draft a consent order for you and your partner to sign.
This is then presented in court and your lawyer will use it to request a financial order, which the court will grant if it agrees the financial proposals are fair.
It’s common for a court to request more information before a ruling is made, so you may be required to fill in additional documentation. You may also be asked to provide proof of ownership for assets you brought into the marriage, assets accumulated during the marriage, pensions, debts, and assets acquired by inheritance.
A clean break financial settlement
Some couples agree to end their marriage with no financial ties after the divorce is finalised.
A ‘clean break’ financial settlement tends to work best for couples who haven’t been married long, have similar financial statuses and don’t have children.
If you agree to a clean break and own your home, you may have to consider selling it to split any proceeds fairly with your partner.
If you have children, child maintenance will still be payable after your divorce.
By assenting to a clean break, each party agrees no spousal maintenance will be paid.
We can advise on all aspects of divorce
Speak to a local lawyer for Free First Advice. Call us now on 01978227280.
6. THE FAMILY HOME
If you cannot agree on the best way to provide a home for your children, and the case goes to court, priority will always be given to the welfare of the children.
Where a family home is the main asset, the primary carer and the children will usually be allowed to remain in the house until children have finished their education.
Where finances do not allow for the cost of maintaining the family home, you may need to move into a smaller house.
This can be a contentious area, and one where you should seek legal advice before making any major decisions.
Mediation should be considered early on if you’re likely to need help resolving financial issues. In fact, you must meet with a Mediator at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) session before you can take your matter to court.
How can I protect myself when the family home is in my partner’s name?
When divorcing, all assets need to be identified and valued in order to determine what needs to be divided. This includes any property.
Once you recognise the marriage has irretrievably broken down, you can take steps to protect your interest in the property by registering a notice of home rights with the Land Registry. This can help stop your partner from selling the property without your knowledge or consent, until the divorce is finalised.
Even if the property is not in your name, it remains the marital home and you have the right of occupation for as long as you are married.
You might also be entitled to a share of the proceeds if the house is sold. This may not be 50/50 split, but any funds could help towards the cost of another home, so naturally you’ll want to take legal advice to claim whatever you’re entitled to.
I own the house and earned all the family’s wealth – how much is my partner entitled to?
If you have children, their needs will be paramount in determining what happens to the family home and child maintenance payments you will need to make.
In some cases, you may need to allow your partner and children to remain in the home until the children are 18, or have finished full-time education, with you retaining a financial interest in the property. You may also need to pay alimony (also known as spousal maintenance), as well as child maintenance payments.
How much you pay will depend on a range of factors, including:
- What your partner’s needs are and how much money they can earn.
- Your partner’s contribution to the marriage; for example, bringing up the children.
- Whether your wealth was earned during the marriage or before you married.
- What your standard of living was during the marriage.
- How long you have been married and how old each of you are.
If there are no children, you may be able to agree a clean break settlement with your partner. This can involve making a one-off payment ending all future financial claims between you and your partner, rather than having any ongoing alimony or maintenance payments.
Looking for legal advice about financial matters?
Call QualitySolicitors now on 01978227280 and we’ll connect you with a local lawyer to arrange Free First Advice.
7. RECEIVING FAIR CHILD MAINTENANCE AND ALIMONY
Child maintenance payments are calculated using fixed methods.
The Child Maintenance Service can work out how much you should receive and collect the payments on your behalf, should you wish it. If you and your partner can agree a sum, you can arrange a child maintenance schedule without involving the courts.
In terms of alimony (spousal maintenance), there is no fixed formula for calculating payments and there are a number of ways it can be finalised.
It is best to agree payments between yourselves without the need to go to court, with a decision then written into your divorce agreement. Alternatively, you can use mediation to try and resolve any outstanding issues; this will be faster and less costly than taking matters to court.
What if my ex stops making child maintenance payments?
If you decide to seek further action against your ex after they’ve stopped paying child maintenance, you should seek legal advice.
You’ll need to obtain a financial order from the court to enforce this payment.
What if my ex won’t agree to alimony payments?
If these options fail, you can apply through the court for a spousal maintenance order.
The court will look at the existing salaries and earning potential of you and your partner, and balance these against your needs and commitments.
If an order is granted, it could be as a lump sum or the payment of maintenance for a fixed time period.
8. SHOULD I CONTINUE PAYING THE HOUSEHOLD BILLS?
The early stages of a divorce can be a challenging time, but it is important you continue to protect your home by making the necessary payments.
You should continue making mortgage or rent payments (or discuss alternative arrangements with your mortgage provider or landlord), as well as any insurance premiums and household bills.
Will I get any recognition for managing all the bills?
All of your contributions will be taken into account in any final settlement agreed by your lawyers or decided by the court.
By behaving reasonably during the divorce, you can also help avoid creating an unnecessarily hostile relationship with your partner.
9. YOUR EX-PARTNER’S CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS THE MORTGAGE
If the mortgage is only in your partner’s name, then they are liable for making payments.
If it is a joint mortgage, both you and your partner are ‘jointly and severally’ liable, meaning you are both responsible for payments both jointly and individually.
In practice, ‘joint and severally’ means if your partner moves out and decides to stop paying the mortgage, you’ll have to pay the full amount yourself.
What if I believe I’m not getting what I am entitled to?
If your partner is refusing to provide what you think is reasonable financial help, you should seek legal advice.
Once divorce proceedings have begun, you may be able to apply to the court for interim maintenance. If decided in your favour, your partner will be legally required to pay an amount determined by the court.
If you have children, you can also ask the Child Maintenance Service to work out how much child maintenance you are entitled to. Ensure you are also receiving all the state benefits you are entitled to.
Looking for help negotiating with your ex-partner?
For Free First Advice from a local lawyer, call 01978227280.
10. I HAVE NO MONEY
If you are in financial difficulty, or are worried your divorce may cause you to become so, you may be entitled to claim benefits, such as tax credits. The best way to find out what you might be entitled to is to contact HMRC Tax Credits.
If you are the sole adult occupant of the house, you may also be eligible to a Council Tax reduction, which could be reduced further if you’re on a low income. Contact your local council for more details or visit the Citizens Advice Bureau for information on who qualifies for a Council Tax reduction.
If you are a low earner, you may be able to secure maintenance payments from your partner. If this cannot be agreed between you, you can make an application for maintenance pending suit when you file for divorce. This is a form of interim maintenance payment until any final arrangements are confirmed.
There may be additional costs associated with filing such an application, so it’s best to discuss your options with a lawyer before making a final decision.
Debt management help
If your income has significantly dropped as a result of your partner leaving (whether you’re working or not) and you have unsecured debts to repay, don’t suffer in silence.
If you’re struggling to make repayments, speak to a debt management charity.
A respectable debt management company will advise you for free, and talk to your creditors on your behalf if you want them to.
Worried about debt?
Contact StepChange for free debt management help and advice.
11. BREAKING UP WHEN COHABITING
Many couples choose to live together without getting married. While you may feel no different to a married couple in emotional terms, under the law, cohabiting couples do not share the same legal rights as those who are married.
This can make things difficult if the relationship breaks down, particularly in regards to finance and property. If children are involved, it’s important to protect their future too.
Nobody wants to think about a potential break up, but it’s sensible to plan for the future with a living together agreement (also called a cohabitation agreement).
This agreement ensures that, regardless of how your relationship might change in the future, both of you are legally protected.
Living together (cohabitation) agreement
QualitySolicitors has helped plenty of couples create a living together agreement. Many find it easier to form this agreement whilst in a strong, loving relationship than dealing with the consequences of a complicated break up at a later date.
We understand every couple is different, so we’ll get to know you in order for us to draft an agreement that accurately and fairly reflects your circumstances. It will protect both people and detail your responsibilities in the event of a break up.
We’ll explain everything in plain and simple terms, answering any questions you may have and making the process easy to understand. We offer free, initial over-the-phone advice and will explain the costs and timescales involved upfront, so you always know what to expect.
Want to find out more about a cohabitation agreement?
Call QualitySolicitors on 01978227280 to speak to a local lawyer.
12. CREATING A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT?
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement made before marriage which provides guidelines on how a couple’s assets are to be distributed in the event of a divorce.
Some might perceive it as unromantic, but prenuptial agreements (sometimes called premarital agreements) allow you to agree in advance what should happen to each person’s assets and finances should the marriage break down.
This way, you can make a fair agreement, rather than risk one of you losing a large chunk of assets in the event of a divorce.
If you have a prenuptial agreement in place, and need to clarify how this might affect your divorce, then you should get legal advice as soon as possible.
Our experience with prenuptial agreements
QualitySolicitors has created agreements for many couples. Our expertise provides peace of mind that everything has been dealt with correctly. With a proper agreement in place, your wishes are more likely to be accepted by the court in the event of a divorce, potentially saving you thousands of pounds in the future.
It is best to draft the agreement well in advance of your wedding day, as this allows plenty of time to finalise the agreement. It will be also look more favourable to the court than an agreement that has been put together at the last minute.
Creating a premarital agreement with us is straightforward and hassle-free. Our friendly lawyers will explain the process clearly and answer any questions you have.
Looking for more information on prenuptial agreements?
For expert, confidential and friendly advice, contact us today on 01978227280.