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Divorce & Family Law Help
How to Save Legal Fees on Your Divorce
Beside the obvious emotional stress that couples go through prior to submitting a petition to divorce, probably the biggest concern that they have relates to how much their divorce will end up costing them. However, it is possible to save legal fees on your divorce, provided that you understand the basic requirements you need to fulfil.
In short, the biggest factors that will determine the legal fees you will need to pay in order to obtain your divorce are whether or not:
(a) there are any children involved; and/or
(b) there is a significant amount of matrimonial property, requiring “ancillary relief”; and
(c) The divorce is being contested.
In the event that any one or more of the above factors relates to your pending divorce, it is highly likely that you will need to seek the assistance of a divorce solicitor - which will obviously increase the legal fees incurred in applying for your divorce. Absent all of these factors, however, there is no reason why you cannot keep your legal fees to the absolute bare minimum and process the divorce by yourselves.
The basic minimum legal fees
Regardless of whether or not you retain a divorce lawyer, the following legal fees will be incurred (at a bare minimum):
£180.00 – court fee to issue the divorce petition
£7.50 – fee when submitting the sworn affidavit, which is to be submitted during the divorce proceedings and is a requirement
£30.00 – court fee to obtain the decree absolute
Therefore, as a minimum, your divorce is going to cost £217.50 in legal fees. However, additional minimal court fees could be payable if documents are not acknowledged by the other party (usually the respondent) to the divorce and you need the services of a bailiff.
As such, to be on the safe-side, you should factor £300.00 as being the minimum legal fees for your divorce.
As is the case with any advice provided by most law firms, fixed fees are rarely agreed to. That said, boutique law firms advertising in your local newspapers may agree to charge a fixed fee for your divorce. Consequently, determining what your lawyers’ fees will amount to is always going to be a tough call. This does not, however, mean that you cannot put a ball-park figure on what your estimated lawyers’ fees should be, and in this regard it is likely that your lawyer will charge no less than £350.00 and no more than £700.00.
Therefore, even in a worst case scenario, the legal fees incurred to obtain your divorce should not be more than £1,000.00.
Reducing the legal fees for your divorce
Essentially there are four ways you can reduce the legal fees your divorce and save money:
(a) you can agree, amicably, to share the legal fees;
(b) if you are the petitioner, you can ask the court to issue an order that the respondent reimburse you for your legal fees (not commonly used unless the divorce is contested);
(c) you can apply for financial assistance under the Legal Advice and Assistance Scheme (commonly known as the “Green Form”); or
(d) you are currently receiving (i) income support; (ii) family credit; (iii) income based Job Seekers Allowance; or (iv) a Disability Working Allowance; all of which allow you to automatically apply, using the Green Form, for financial assistance with paying for your legal fees.
You should note, however, that following recent changes to the Legal Aid scheme, in practice applications for financial support under (c) and (d) above are rare as a strict ‘means test’ is applied. Moreover, even if you apply successfully for financial assistance under (c) and (d) above, your choice of divorce solicitor may be limited. Consequently, where possible it is more advisable that you (i) try to agree to share the legal fees; or (ii) negotiate an upfront, all inclusive, fixed advisory legal fee with your solicitor that is acceptable to you.