How much does a divorce cost?
The cost of a divorce depends on the method you choose and the complexity of the case. There is a standard court fee of £550 to process the divorce application. In an average, uncontested divorce, when a solicitor is acting, the cost of preparing the paperwork and progressing the proceedings is likely to be in the region of £750 plus VAT.
However, in rare cases where the divorce itself is contested, or where (more frequently) there are financial and/or child arrangements to resolve, solicitor costs can typically range from £2,500 to £25,000, especially if additional court proceedings are required.
What is the average cost of a divorce?
Many people who are considering separating might be put off from pursuing divorce proceedings due to what they fear may be an expensive process.
If separation is very acrimonious, and/or there are complexities such as foreign assets, family businesses or trust assets, resolving the dispute can be costly. However, in straightforward cases, especially where both parties are reasonable, there is no reason why the process should cost you much more than the price of a new sofa.
In addition, the benefit of accessing proper legal advice, and having a final order drawn up to make your financial or child arrangements agreement legally binding, is definitely worth investing in.
Therefore, as long as both parties are co-operating it is possible for a solicitor to give you an accurate estimate as to what your divorce is likely to cost.
Can I share the cost with my spouse?
If you reach an agreement, particularly where only one of you intends to appoint a solicitor, it is often the case that the legal costs incurred are agreed to be shared.
Otherwise, if you are the petitioner and you are pursuing a fault-based divorce e.g. adultery or unreasonable behaviour, then you can look to claim your divorce costs from your spouse regardless of whether there is an agreement.
How much does a financial settlement in a divorce cost?
In terms of negotiating a financial settlement, it is more difficult to be precise, although your solicitor should always provide you with a cost estimate before embarking down this route.
If the assets in the case are minimal, or the parties have already decided who gets what then it may just be a case of drawing up a simple clean break consent order to prevent either party claiming against the other in the future. The document still needs to be prepared carefully and approved by the court. Legal fees could range from £1250 to £2500 to get this done.
If however there is a dispute, considerable further work will be required in order to get this resolved. Chances are you will need to go through a disclosure exercise to establish what assets each party has in order to achieve a fair settlement. Depending on the complexity of the assets, this may be a complicated process, or it could be quite straightforward.
Ultimately if no agreement can be reached then the court will need to decide who gets what. If a case were to go all the way to a final hearing, which is very rare, it would not be unusual for legal fees to be in excess of £20,000. Therefore it is important to always think about the cost-benefit analysis. There is little point in spending thousands of pounds fighting over something that is worth less than that.
How much does a child arrangements case in a divorce cost?
In terms of child arrangements, the cost of these will depend on the dispute. Ultimately if the matter ends up in court is it is likely to cost several thousand pounds, considerably more if the case goes all the way to a final hearing. On top of this, there may also be barrister’s fees to pay.
The best approach wherever possible, however, is to keep things amicable and consider the court process only as a last resort. There are other routes available to resolve matters by agreement, for example, family mediation, or attending a round-table meeting with respective lawyers, to negotiate an agreement.