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Do you really need a lawyer for your divorce?

Written by: Kate Daly
Using a lawyer might be the traditional thing that springs to mind if divorce looms, but it’s not the only (or necessarily the best) option available to separate from your partner.

There are several different ways you can divorce. We’ve set them out in price order starting from the lowest cost options where you have the most control, down to the higher cost options with the least amount of control.

1. DIY – if your arrangements are simple and you both agree, you can use the government website to download and submit your divorce forms. If you need some help organising and sorting your arrangements with your ex you can use Amicable’s free app. DIY divorce is free, but you will still need to pay the court fee for filing your petition. The fee to file for divorce is £550. You may be exempt or eligible for a discount on the court fees, if you are on benefits or a low income.

2. Online services – you will have to pay a small fee (usually below £100). This acts as an admin fee for the online service to send you the forms you need. It will be down to you to do your research regarding what you’ll need to submit. Often people prefer to chat to a real person about what to do which isn’t usually available with this type of option.

3. A fixed price divorce service – this is the type of service Amicable offers, though there are a number on the market. Our service provides a Divorce Coach to talk to about the legal bit and with support on the emotional journey, parenting plans finances and planning for the future. This option starts from £300 for a simple divorce and ranges up to £2,850 for a divorce, consent order, help with negotiating a fair split and sorting your childcare arrangements.

4. Mediation – mediation won’t get you divorced but it can help couples to work together to agree finances and children arrangement. Fees for an initial meeting, sometimes called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) or an intake meeting start at £30 per person. They will usually not be more than £120 per person. The average charge is around £65 per person (but this will vary from location to location).

5. Solicitors/lawyers – going down this route is the right option for you if you would rather have someone acting on your behalf or there are issues of high conflict, domestic violence or issues where you feel you need the protection of the court. Retaining two separate lawyers increases the cost of divorce and can provoke conflict between you as your lawyer will be working for your best interests and your ex’s lawyer will be doing the same. It’s estimated that couples can end up paying £8,000 each in legal fees just for lawyers to sort out their finances. However there are lawyers out there who offer fixed fees too – just be sure to be clear on the costs involved before you start.

6. Court – if court can be avoided, then it should be. Taking your divorce to court only really happens in extremely acrimonious cases. You will need to attend mediation before you will be allowed to make an application to the court. If you do end up in court, the average cost of a divorce is £80,000 in London and £26,000 elsewhere.

Kate Daly is co-founder of Amicable 

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