More than two out of five marriages end in divorce. The emotional side of separating obviously takes its toll, but the legal process and fees can leave a serious dent in bank balances with the average divorce costing £13,000.
Many of us have to hold the purse strings for the first time – and this alone can be incredibly stressful. Read on for ideas to help ease the burden following a split.
A DIY divorce can be cost-effective if both parties agree: “You can simply contact your local court offices or download the forms from www.justice.gov.uk, and get going,” says Marilyn Stowe of Stowe Family Law and author of Divorce & Splitting Up (digital copy 99p, Amazon).
Alternatively, online divorce sites can cut costs and speed up the process. Divorce-online.co.uk (0870 626 0419) charges a fixed fee of £69 for a pack containing all the forms to obtain a divorce.
“You also have to pay your local county court’s standard court fees, currently £340 when you file your petition, and £45 when you apply for the final divorce decree. This happens with every divorce, online or otherwise,” says Mark Keenan of Divorce-online. A solicitor-managed divorce including legal advice is available for £299 – plus court fees. “A high-street solicitor will charge around £2,000 to £3,000,” says Mark.
In any relationship – don’t let one partner deal with the money alone. Find out what’s going in and coming out – it could save you a lot of trouble (financial and emotional) if you split up.
Hiring a solicitor
“Where there are major decisions to be made a good lawyer will help,” says Marilyn Stowe.
Many solicitors don’t charge for the first appointment, but ask for a schedule of charges so you know what you’ll pay from then on.
Checklist: Finding your financial feet
- Gather financial information so you feel more in control
- Create a budget – list bills and fixed outgoings to establish a monthly budget you cana stick to
- Claim benefits – check with Citizens Advice or use the benefits checker at www.turn2us.org.uk
- Check your credit report with Experian (www.experian.co.uk), Equifax (www.equifax.co.uk) and Call Credit (www.callcredit.co.uk). If you’ve always borrowed money jointly, you may need to build your own credit rating
- Check you have relevant insurance – for example life insurance if you are a child’s sole carer
- Check the rates on all your financial products (including utilities) and switch to better deals
- Think about longer-term priorities, particularly saving for retirement
- Draw up a new Will
- Tell the taxman of your new situation. Visit www.hmrc.gov.uk
10 steps to divorce
1. You can divorce if you have been married at least a year and your relationship has irretrievably
2. Parties choose a ground for divorce (most commonly two-year separation).
3. Petitioner files the divorce petition and statement of arrangements if there are children.
4. Respondent acknowledges the petition and indicates whether they defend.
5. If no defence, petitioner files application for decree nisi and signs a statement of truth.
6. Judge looks at papers and grants the decree nisi.
7. Decree nisi – an interim order – is pronounced.
8. Six weeks later petitioner files for decree absolute.
9. Decree absolute granted; parties are now divorced.
10. Between steps 7 and 8 parties can file their financial consent order and the judge will make the order if they are happy that it is fair on both parties.