We know that getting divorced can be emotionally draining – there are often so many questions that need answering that it can be tricky to know where to start. The Cartridges Law divorce team has come up with a list of frequently asked questions to help.
How much will my divorce cost?
There is a court fee of £550 to issue a divorce application. If you are on a low income or in receipt of benefits you may be eligible to apply to be remitted from paying part or all the court fee.
The court fee is paid by the party who is applying for the divorce when submitting the application with the court. The parties can come to an agreement themselves as to how this is funded. Some parties choose to split the cost equally. In some circumstances you can ask the court to make an order for costs that the respondent in the relationship is ordered to pay.
Do I need a solicitor to get divorced?
Not necessarily. Anyone can apply online for a divorce and the government have produced a website that can take you through this process step by step. There are also resources online which will provide more detailed information about how to represent yourself. There are however some parts of the process where it may be worth taking advice from a legal expert, for instance if there are financial aspects of the marriage that need resolving, such as property, savings, businesses, pensions, and incomes.
As of September 2021, all solicitors must use the online service. If you are representing yourself, you can choose whether you use the online service or complete a paper form and submit it by post.
Can we agree the financial aspects of the divorce ourselves?
Yes. There are many ways of coming to a resolution regarding your finances. Some people come to a private agreement, whilst others may choose to attend mediation which can support you in your communication. Some people choose to take legal advice and use solicitors in the negotiations, and some resort to using the court process to help them to reach a conclusion.
The main point to remember is that any agreement between you is not legally binding until it is approved by the court. For a court to approve a financial agreement (consent order) it does require limited disclosure of each parties’ finances.
Does the decree absolute end any financial claims from our relationship?
The important thing to remember is that a divorce only ends the marriage (the legal relationship).
Getting a divorce does not end the financial relationship created as a result of the marriage. To legally end the financial relationship, a ‘clean break’ order is required. For this to be legally binding it needs to be submitted and approved by the court. A clean break order ends all future financial claims against each other, most significantly any claim on death.
It should be noted that if you remarry, any future claims will be affected if you have not already obtained the clean financial break order.
What am I entitled to financially?
A financial agreement does not have to be equal but must be considered fair. The court will consider many factors when looking at financial orders, which vary with every case depending on individual circumstances.
The parties needs are an important factor when considering how the marital assets should be divided. This can include considering where any children of the marriage are living, establishing the income and housing needs of each party, how long the relationship was, whether each party is able to work, and establishing whether there are any medical conditions to consider. These are all matters that may impact any division of assets and financial orders made.
A solicitor will not advise you specifically on what you could be entitled to without seeing financial disclosure from both parties. Financial disclosure would normally include submission of 12 months’ worth of bank statements, employment or income evidence, pension values, property valuations, vehicle valuations and any other financial evidence that may be relevant. Whilst it might feel somewhat daunting to provide financial disclosure, a lawyer cannot advise on how appropriate or fair an agreement is without being able to see the evidence.
Will I need to attend court?
If all parties are cooperating with the divorce process, then there is no requirement for anyone to attend court and it will be dealt with as a paper/online process.
If an application is issued at court for financial orders, then it is likely that you will be expected to attend court for hearings until the proceedings reach a conclusion by way of agreement or order from the court.
At Cartridges Law we provide legal services for anyone navigating the end of a relationship. Contact us for an initial free conversation with a member of our divorce team.