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Can I afford to get divorced?

We understand that going through divorce or separation is painful and scary. The legal process can seem difficult and intimidating. Added to this is the unknown factor of how expensive it is going to be.

How much does a divorce cost and can you afford it?

The ‘divorce’ deals only with your legal status of being married. An amicable divorce where there are no financial assets or child arrangements can be relatively inexpensive. The expense and added difficulty arise where there are disputes involving finances or children which are complex. We appreciate that one of the first things you will want to discuss with us is funding of your case. 

We offer a fixed fee initial appointment, where we will be able to give you comprehensive advice including a sense of the possible outcomes of your case and very importantly, the likely costs. We have your best interests at heart and will also spend time in the initial meeting and throughout our involvement, considering alternative dispute resolution processes, such as Mediation and Collaborative law that are less expensive than going to court. These often lead to a more amicable resolution between both parties.

In order to start your divorce, there will be a fee paid to the court fee of £593. You can share the fee with your partner, or you may be able to get help with it if you’re on low income. You can apply for a divorce yourself or together with your partner. If you and your partner intend to share the costs of the divorce you should discuss and agree this from the outset. We can also assist you with those negotiations.

There is also a range of options available to help you finance your case. We can tailor your appointment and funding to your individual circumstances and needs.

The following are possible ways of funding your divorce:

  1. Interim maintenance - if your partner is a higher earner and you find that you’re struggling financially after separation you may be able to apply to the court for financial support called ‘maintenance’, which will remain in place until your divorce finalises.
  2. Litigation funding - This is a third-party finance - essentially a loan. This can cover all or part of your costs. The loan is repaid from the funds you receive at the end of your divorce settlement, such as proceeds from the sale of your home or any cash financial settlement.
  3. Personal borrowing – once you have information about the cost, the likely timing and likely outcome you may feel you can enter into personal borrowing such as an interest free credit card or other loan arrangements. You can pay solicitors’ fees with a credit card if you’re able to meet monthly repayments.
  4. You may be able to borrow money from family or friends. These loans are common in divorce proceedings. The court will view these as either “soft” or “hard” loans. The hard loan normally sets out a time frame for repayment and consequences for not being able to do so and is more likely to be factored into any financial agreement. 
  5. You may also be able to agree with your solicitor that your legal costs will be paid at the end of your case. This is called a Sears Tooth Agreement. This is a rare option and is not suitable for cases where there are little or no assets. 

We base our costs on the time we spend on your case. We charge either at hourly rate (where we will provide you with the costs estimate and a breakdown of fees at the outset) or for  straightforward matters we can also offer a fixed fee (for specific set legal procedures) which means that your case will not exceed the sum we agree with you. You may be able to pay your fees at the end of your case by obtaining litigation funding, however most people agree to a “pay as you go” system and fund this from income, savings and/or loans.

Whatever your circumstances, we can arrange for a tailored made solution to suit your case. Take that first step with us and book an initial meeting. Knowing where you stand is a good place to be when everything seems so uncertain. The cost of this first meeting (Between £200+vat and £325+vat) is usually more than offset by the confidence you feel in asserting your proposals as being sensible and persuasive. 

Contact us today on 020 8771 5254 or by email if you would like more information or to book a fixed fee appointment.

About the Author

Barbara Bitis is a solicitor specialising in Family Law.

Posted in: family law, divorce

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