If you speak to anyone who has gone through a divorce, probably one of the first things they will discuss is the cost. This is because the average cost of a divorce with a financial order in the UK is around £14,500 plus VAT.
Whilst it can be a costly process, there will be various factors affecting this cost including; if your divorce is contested or uncontested, the complexity of your finances and family arrangements and whether you do the divorce paperwork yourself online or instruct a professional.
If you are faced with costs which you cannot afford, there are several options for paying:
- Informal borrowing – Many people are lucky enough to be able to borrow money from family or friends and such loans are common in divorce proceedings. These loans can be factored into the overall financial agreement. However, how they are dealt with depends on the nature of the loan – whether they are considered to be ‘soft’ or ‘hard.’ A ‘soft’ loan is where there is no expectation for it to be repaid immediately and there would be no consequences if the repayment was delayed. A ‘hard’ loan has a set time frame in which it needs to be repaid and there will generally be consequences if repayments are missed. The definition of the loan will affect to what extent it is factored into any financial agreement.
- Credit card – If you are comfortable meeting the monthly payments, then you can pay your solicitor’s fees on a credit card, in order to better manage the larger bills.
- Litigation Funding – This option involves a third party financing all or part of the legal costs in return for a fee. This fee can be paid from the proceeds received at the end of court proceedings, meaning you can pay the loan back from the funds you receive in your divorce settlement. In the UK there are many specialised litigation funding companies and we can work with you to find the right loan that suits you.
- Interim Maintenance – If you find that after separation, you are struggling financially as your spouse was the higher earner, then you may be able to apply for interim maintenance. These payments are a type of spousal support ordered by the Court which will top up your income and can remain in place until the divorce is finalised.
- Sears Tooth Agreement – This is a fairly rare option. It is an agreement between you and your solicitor that their legal costs will be paid for in full at the end of the matter, directly from your divorce settlement. Once the agreement has been signed, it is disclosed to the Court and becomes a legally binding contract. This agreement is not suitable for cases where there are minimal financial assets.
Top tips to keep costs of your divorce down
- Communicate with your spouse and try to remain as amicable as possible.
- You can do some of the work yourself, particularly the divorce. The more you can do the less time the solicitor needs to spend on your matter, thereby keeping your costs down.
- Instruct a mediator. They will help guide discussions between you and your spouse and hopefully help you make joint decisions.
- Consider whether it’s right in your case to instruct a junior lawyer with a lower hourly rate.
Most solicitors will offer a low cost fixed fee meeting to discuss the options mentioned above and help decide what’s right for you. If you would like more information on booking a fixed fee appointment, please contact me or another member of the Family Team.