Meet our expert
Rachel Duke is Head of Family at law firm Ronald Fletcher Baker and an Official Provider of Lawyer-Supported Mediation (www.lawyersupportedmediation.com)
What do I need from my divorce?
Think about what you’d like the end result to be. “The terms of your divorce should ensure you have a high enough income up to and into retirement, as well as making sure you have a secure home,” says Rachel Duke. “If you stayed at home to raise your children you might not have enough National Insurance contributions for the full state pension.” You may have a claim on your partner’s pension, but you will need to look into this.
What are my options?
You can choose to pay for the services of a solicitor, a solicitor plus mediation, or a DIY divorce.
A DIY divorce can be cost-effective if both of you agree on how things should be split. In this case, you may not need a solicitor. You can contact your local court offices or download the forms from www.justice.gov.uk. Many people use online divorce sites to guide them through the process. www.divorce-online.co.uk (01793 393177) offers packages from £69. County court standard fee (currently £410) is payable when you file your petition
- A solicitor will negotiate your divorce settlement on your behalf, which is helpful if your divorce is acrimonious (cost: £5,000 to £10,000).
- Collaborative Law is another option, it involves you and your partner having a series of meetings together with each of your solicitors. This approach allows you to work as a team to find the best possible solution for both of you. Once again this option isn’t cheap – (£5,000 to £10,000).
- Lawyer-Supported Mediation – can be a cheaper option if you need to use a solicitor. “Both you and your partner take advice from your solicitors,” says Rachel Duke. “You then meet with a mediator over a series of sessions to reach an agreement that is fair on both sides. Your solicitors check the agreement is just and that it will work. If everything is fair they draw up the legal documents for you. Assuming your financial assets aren’t too complicated, your total fees would be less than £5,000.” For an estimate, call Lawyer-Supported Mediation on 033 0223 1188 or visit: www.lawyersupported mediation.com
- Don't forget - Check your potential solicitor is a member of the Law Society’s Family Law Accreditation Scheme. They have experience in family law, including divorce cases. Call the Law Society on 0207 320 5650
9 steps to divorce
- You need to have been married at least a year and your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
- Both of you choose a ground for divorce (eg a two-year separation).
- Petitioner files the divorce petition.
- Respondent acknowledges petition and indicates if they’ll defend it.
- If no defence, petitioner files application for decree nisi and signs statement of truth.
- Judge grants decree nisi (an interim order).
- Both parties can file their financial consent order now. The judge will make the order if he’s happy it’s fair.
- Six weeks after Step 6, petition files for decree absolute.
- Decree absolute granted; you are now divorced.