If you are thinking about separating, here are steps you can take to reduce the cost.

Did you know?

More enquiries about divorce happen in January than any other month. After the stresses of Christmas some couples decide to separate, whilst others choose the New Year to make a fresh start.

 

Sort out as much as you can between yourselves

The more you can do to discuss splitting assets, property and possessions amicably, the less it will cost you in the long term.

 

Be civil...

...And keep the lines of communication open. You may be feeling very upset at the manner in which your marriage has ended, but try to set aside emotions and deal with issues calmly.

“You pay to argue, so try to do as much as you can initially without involving solicitors,” says Keith Churchouse, independent financial adviser (IFA)  and author of the book Addicted to Wedding Cake about the divorce journey.

 

Explore mediation before taking an adversarial approach

Family mediation is a way of helping couples who are separating or divorcing to sort out disagreements.

It aims to help couples reach decisions about money, property and looking after children. Both you and your partner need to be willing to attend mediation sessions, which are cheaper than solicitors’ fees. At the end you draw up an agreement, which you can then make legally binding if you wish by using solicitors.

 

Take specialist advice if your situation is more complicated 

If there are substantial assets, equity in your property, a large potential pension pot or disputes over the care of children, then it is better to consult a specialist. Some solicitors work with IFAs and family counsellors to provide a holistic service.

Lisa Burton-Durham at Family Law Partners says: “We believe it is important to work as a team and we have counsellors and IFAs to help with all the issues that arise.”

 

Tell the right people

Make sure you tell your bank, council tax office, mortgage company and credit card companies that you are splitting up, and think about your will—you may need to rewrite it. It is best to use a solicitor to draw up a will, as a badly-written one could cause problems for your family later down the line.

 

Should you do-it-yourself?

You can get a divorce if you have been married at least a year and your relationship has permanently broken down. It is possible to download documents from the Gov.uk website for free.

You must have a marriage that is legally recognised in the UK, and have a permanent home in England or Wales.

There is more information on the government website.

 

Divorce via the internet?

Some websites offer low-cost divorce services, ranging from sending you forms (which you can actually download yourself for free from the Gov.uk website or get from your local court) to receiving more help from a caseworker who will fill in the forms for you.

You should be wary of sorting out your financial settlement yourself, however, because although you might think you want a “clean break” now, it might not benefit you financially in the long run to agree to one.

 

Family arbitration

An alternative is family arbitration which aims to help couples reach agreements about family issues and disputes without going to court. It’s more formal than mediation and is legally binding.

It does not cover disputes about children, and you will probably need legal advice as well.

 

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