Divorce is a subject that we don’t ever want to talk about until we have to, unless of course you are a divorce lawyer. No part of divorce is easy. Once we arrive at the painful decision to start the proceedings, the emotional toll can feel huge, so the last thing we want is to feel out of control of our finances.
Previously at MoneyMagpie, we have offered a “financial checklist” looking all the costs to consider when starting a divorce.
This guide however, offers an overview of asset distribution and legal fees, all while gaining a deeper understanding of why working with a competent divorce lawyer can make a huge difference to both the outcome and your mental health.
- How do we reach a settlement?
- What do divorce lawyers do?
- Who will get the house in a divorce?
- What happens to investment property?
- The average cost of an uncontested divorce
- How long does divorce take?
- What does a divorce lawyer cost?
A divorce settlement is essentially an agreement as to who gets what (in terms of assets and property) in the divorce.
A financial settlement of course costs money. A basic agreement without complications or contest will cost around £300 plus VAT, as this involves a solicitor drafting a Financial Remedy Consent Order and the court charging £50.
Where more complicated assets are in discussion, this fee rises. If, however, you need to discuss your assets and the settlement at mediation, this will incur further legal costs.
If an agreement is contested or cannot be reached, either privately between you or at mediation, then your case would be taken to court. The outcome of the entire proceeding is to eventually reach a settlement. Often cases aren’t contested unless there are large assets at play.
Divorce lawyers will seek an initial consiltation to establish exactly the nature of your case and what you need. Each family is unique and after consultation the lawyers should discuss your circumstances, identify what is most important to you and what would be your desired outcome. Mediation between you and your partner can help remove some of the emotion involved, whilst helping you understand exactly what you are entitled to and how to get what isa best for you..
A good and competent settlement lawyer will advise you on the law and how best to achieve the outcomes you seek. If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, this will also need to be reviewed.
The full range of options to obtain your divorce settlement, include:
- Collaborative law
- Central Family Court, High Court, County Court, Supreme Court
- Private FDRs
- Lawyer led negotiations
Whatever you choose, a good lawyer should assure you that they will negotiate extensively on your behalf. If the divorce does proceed to court, advocates will then represent you.
You have a wide range of options when deciding how to divide the family home. This could include:
- Buying your spouse out of their share of the home;
- Selling the home; or
- Postponing a sale until your children are older.
Depending on the value of any other assets, it may also be possible to offset one person’s interest in the home against another asset. For example, perhaps one of you will keep the family home in exchange for the other keeping a pension fund or holiday home.
There is no definite answer as to who gets the house and in cases where children are involved, there is still no clear answer. This is very much on a case by case basis.
An investment property is treated the same as any other asset. A determination will initially be made as to if it is matrimonial property or not. If it is deemed to be matrimonial property then, regardless of whose name the property is held in, it will be considered to be part and parcel of the matrimonial pot to be divided between spouses.
99% of divorce cases in England and Wales are uncontested, according to Co-Op legal services.
If you are the one seeking the divorce then you are known as “the petitioner”. You will pay £450 – £950 in solicitor’s fees. You’ll also pay a £550 divorce centre fee – totalling at £1,000 to £1,500.
If you are the other spouse then you’re known as “the respondent” and will not need to pay a divorce centre fee. Your solicitor’s fees should also be lower. Making your total significantly less at £240 to £600.
Whether you do it yourself and apply for divorce by downloading the forms online, or you instruct the help of a solicitor, that £550 fee can’t be avoided and needs to be paid by the petitioner. That is unless you are eligible for financial help because you are on a low income or receive benefits.
Check out if you’re eligible for legal aid GOV UK.
Spouses who settle their issues can have their uncontested divorce final in about 1–3 months. However, divorce cases that go to trial take an average of 17.6 months to resolve.
There is no one definitive answer as to how much a divorce lawyer/solicitor will charge. It is very much on a case by case basis and whether you go for a fixed fee or a by-the-hour solicitor. If a divorce is uncontested, fees are far lower than if you have to go to court.
Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.