According to research, divorce enquiries are predicted to rise more than 300% in January. It seems that many people hold off meeting with a solicitor until after the Christmas celebrations. Maybe they don’t want to spoil the event or they also want one last Christmas as a family. So, if Christmas turns out to be “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for you, please bear in mind last week’s reports on the cost of divorce. It suggested that divorcing couples are now paying an average of £70,000 to sort out their finances. Solicitor’s fees are likely to account for about half of this cost. January is often a difficult month, emotionally and financially, therefore it is important to give some consideration to the costs involved in dealing with issues following marital breakdown.
Where does the high cost of divorce come from?
To file for a divorce, the court currently charges a fee of £550 to start the proceedings. The petitioner (the person who files for the divorce) pays this fee. In addition you have legal fees to pay if you instruct a solicitor to deal with divorce proceedings on your behalf.
If you are the Respondent (the person who receives a divorce petition), it is imperative that you take legal advice when you receive the divorce papers from the court. Whilst you do not have the court fee to pay, your spouse can request that the court make an order requiring you to pay the total cost of divorce. This could include both the court fee and legal costs.
Divorce is considered to be the second most stressful life event. It scores 73 of out a possible 100 points in the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. So it makes sense to appoint a solicitor who can guide you through the process and help ease the stress. Many solicitors can offer a fixed fee arrangement to give you peace of mind. That way you will not receive a large unexpected bill at the end of your divorce.
Financial settlements in divorce
Negotiating a financial settlement can be the most time consuming and problematic aspect of the divorce process. It’s often the most difficult area to estimate the likely costs involved.
If you and your spouse can agree on how to divide your matrimonial assets, your case can be very simple and legal costs will be kept to a minimum. It is still extremely important that you both take legal advice to ensure that the agreement reached is fair. This agreement will have to be drafted into a legally binding document that both of you can sign and send to the court for approval.
If you and your spouse cannot agree a financial settlement, with the assistance of a solicitor, it may be best to let the courts step in. One party will therefore need to issue financial remedy proceedings at court. There is currently a court fee of £220 to start these proceedings. You will also need to consider any additional costs such as:
• Fees paid to a valuer should a valuation of the matrimonial home or another property be required;
• Payments to pension actuaries if a pension report is needed;
• Fees paid to an accountant to value any company assets or report on tax issues;
• Cost of bank statements or credit card statements if copies are not available;
• Fees paid to the HMRC for a copy of tax documents if they are not available;
• Bills paid to independent financial advisers for advice on how best to manage your financial affairs;
• Fees paid to a barrister to represent you at any final hearing.
Taking these additional fees into account it is clear to see how costs can escalate once financial remedy proceedings are instigated. It’s vital for people to be aware of these fees from the outset. We hope most solicitors would tell their clients in advance it’s always best to be prepared.
What is the legal cost of divorce at SAS Daniels?
Whilst legal costs differ from case to case we are able to give you an estimated cost at an initial meeting. We also continually review this estimate depending on how your case develops and will inform you of any changes.
Each of our solicitors is happy to provide you with some free advice at your initial appointment. At this appointment we will gather information about your personal and financial circumstances and outline your options. We then help you determine a pricing structure that suits your individual needs and you to choose how you wish to proceed.
One of the pricing structures we can offer is a cost-effective fixed fee arrangement (where possible) to help you through a straight forward divorce process. This involves meeting with you to discuss your options, drafting divorce papers and filing and receiving all relevant documentation with/from the court. Everything from the very beginning to the very end when you receive your Decree Absolute. We will discuss all documents with you at each and every stage.
When it comes to a divorce that includes financial settlements we charge for this aspect of your case on an hourly basis. This rate varies depending on the level of expertise the solicitor you instruct to conduct your case has.
For more information on the cost of divorce, please contact Claire Porter in our Family Law team on 01244 305926.