Get a divorce to officially end your marriage.
If you don’t want a divorce, you can::
- get a legal separation so you can live apart without ending the marriage
- annul the marriage if it counts as ‘defective’ or isn’t legally valid
Ending your civil partnershipYou can officially end your civil partnership or get a legal separation, instead if you want to live apart without ending the civil partnership.
There are three key stages to a divorce in England and Wales: the divorce petition, Decree Nisi, and Decree Absolute.
To apply for a Divorce or end a civil partnership in England or Wales, you will need to meet the following criteria:
- To have been married/ in a partnership for more than 12 months
- Your marriage has permanently broken down and cannot be saved. You’ll need to give one or more of the 5 available reasons (also known as ‘facts’).
- your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage)
- The UK is your permanent home or that of your husband or wife
The ‘Petitioner’ is the person who files for divorce and the ‘Respondent’ is the person who the divorce is filed against.
If neither of you objects, the divorce is uncontested. If one of you objects, then the divorce is defended.
The Divorce Process Timeline for an Uncontested Divorce in the UK from the issuing of the divorce petition (step 1) up until the pronouncement of the decree absolute (final stage) is usually around 4-6 months.
It should be noted however that the timescales for divorce have been impacted this year due to COVID-19; a more realistic timescale would be 5-7 months providing both parties can agree to the divorce.
On average, ending a marriage and coming to a financial settlement takes approximately a year.
Court fees in divorce are compulsory and set by the Government. It currently costs £593to initiate proceedings in England and Wales which is usually paid by the Petitioner.You may not have to pay the fee, or you may get some money off if you are on a low-income or receive certain benefits.
Children and Finances
You and your ex-partner might need to think about:
- How to divide your finances
- What happens to any property
- Care arrangements for your children
- Child support payments
- Division of pensions etc..
Before you send in your application, you and your husband or wife can choose to work out:
- • arrangements for looking after any children
- • child maintenance payments for any children
You can also divide your money and property. There’s a deadline if you want to make this legally binding.
You can usually avoid going to court hearings if you agree about children, money and property and the reasons for ending your marriage. See Consent Orders below.
You can get help agreeing on issues. This usually takes the form of solicitor negotiations and/ or you can use a mediator. We can help you get in touch with experienced mediators.
You may be able to get legal aid to help pay for mediation.
Consent ordersare court-approved legally binding documents that formalises how you and your ex-partner will divide your assets including any children arrangements and maintenance.Consent orders play a large role in the divorce process, so ensuring you fully understand what a consent order is and what they mean is a crucial part of getting a divorce. Marriage opens financial obligations towards your spouse, which are not automatically brought to an end through divorce proceedings.Therefore unless there is a separate order that also dismisses or otherwise deals with the financial claims that are available upon divorce, those claims remain open indefinitely. This is the case even if you and your spouse reach an agreement directly and divide your assets between you.
To draft a consent order, depends upon the complexity of the document, our fees are normally between £400.00 and £600.00, plus VAT.
There is also a court fee of £53.00 to file the order with the court. This agreement is not legally binding unless a court approves a consent order which comes into effect after Decree Absolute is pronounced.
Clean Break Order
A clean break order means a court order that ends all financial ties between you and your ex-partner. Which means, no further financial claim can be made against each other in the future. Our fees normally costs between £300 and £500, plus a £50 court fee.
The Cost of an Uncontested Divorce
Depending on the complexity of the matter the legal fees for a divorce application will be charged at an hourly rate (see below) but can also be done under a fixed fee arrangement which will normally be in the region of £1200 plus VAT plus for the court fees as above.
The solicitor’s fees for the respondent are normally less, between £400 and £600, again can be done at an hourly rate too. However, they may be ordered by the court to pay some or all of the Petitioner’s costs.
The Cost of a Defended Divorce
If the Respondent submits an answer to divorce, you may have to go to court to discuss the case. He/ she may have to pay a £245 fee, but might be able to get help paying it.
Disagreeing with the divorce means there’ll be a court hearing. You’ll have to attend and come to an agreement over the divorce with your husband and wife.
cases are more difficult to solve and so it normally takes longer which means the costs are significantly higher. The amount you pay will depend on how long the divorce process takes. It will be less expensive if you and your ex-partner come to an agreement before you go to court. The person defending the divorce could also be at risk of paying the other parties’ cost.
No- Fault Divorce
Married couples in England and Wales could soon find divorce proceedings quicker and less acrimonious under a no-fault divorce system, which aims to end the divorce blame game. Under the new divorce law, it allows for a divorce without either party attributing fault or lengthy separation periods.
Solicitors can charge by the hour or offer a fixed fee. You can agree with your solicitor in advance to cap the fees or the amount of work they do.
Married couples in England and Wales could soon find divorce proceedings quicker and less acrimonious under a no-fault divorce system, which aims to end the divorce blame game.
Under the new divorce law, it allows for a divorce without either party attributing fault or lengthy separation periods.
In effect, it removes the adversarial basis of many divorce cases, leading many to call it the biggest change to UK divorce law in 50 years. The No Fault Act was passed in June 2020 and the government is still working on the implementation of the changes after COVID-19 related delays, it is now expected to come into effect on 6th April 2022.
A legal separation allows you to live apart, without divorcing or ending a civil partnership.
You can ask for a legal separation for the same reasons you could file for a divorce or end a civil partnership, or you may want a legal separation if:
- you have religious reasons against divorce
- you’ve been married or in a civil partnership for less than a year
- you want time and space to work out if you want to end the marriage or civil partnership
Getting a legal separation, costs £365. However, you may be able to get help with court fees if you’re on benefits or a low income. You would need to provide evidence for eligibility.
You may apply for a divorce after Legal Separation if:
- You’ve been separated for at least 2 years
- You can apply for a divorce if you’ve been separated for at least 2 years before applying for divorce and you both agree to it.
- Your husband or wife must agree in writing
- It may be possible for you to show that you’ve been separated while living in the same home as your wife or husband, as long as you are not living together as a couple (for example you sleep and eat apart).g
- You’ve been separated for at least 5 years
- • You can apply for a divorce if you’ve been separated for at least 5 years before applying, even if your husband or wife disagrees.
Using a Divorce Solicitor
It is helpful and sensible to seek legal advice from a family law solicitor. They will inform you of your rights and talk you through your options.Information is also found available in: GOV.uk
The cost of your fees to resolve the finances will depend on how much work needs to be done and the complexity of your assets/circumstances.
You are more likely to be charged an hourly rate if financial matters need to be resolved and it is unclear how long this process will take.
Level of experience
Average hourly rate (UK)
Principal Solicitor/Senior Solicitor 10year PQE
Associate Solicitors with over 5 year PQE
Solicitors with less than 5 year PQE
Initial Consultation - Fixed Fee
Simman Solicitors offer a fixed-fee arrangement for uncontested divorces, which can be broken down as follows:
Our fixed fee
If a divorce is disputed, then costs will be charged at the solicitor’s hourly rate.
The role of a mediator is to help you and your ex-partner have a positive discussion about your divorce – normally about child custody arrangements or financial issues. Mediation is mandatory before court proceedings can be issued unless you are exempted.
The purpose is for both you and your ex-partner to come to a mutual agreement and avoiding the cost of expensive court hearings. This agreement is then used to create a document called a Memorandum of Understanding. The agreement is further presented to your solicitor and used to draw up the necessary consent order.
The mediator will remain neutral throughout the whole process. They will not tell you what to do, instead they will help you and your ex-partner to communicate effectively so that you can make decisions.
The total costs dependupon the number of sessions you need (three or four is the average number). Generally, mediators charge around £120 per session, although this can increase to £250 if they’re also a qualified solicitor. You will be informed of the cost estimate in your initial meeting, once the mediator has sight of your matter.
Court proceedings is considered If you cannot resolve issues. Therefore, a court application will be required.
The court fee is £255. From the date of application, the costs are usually between £5,500 and £10,000, plus VAT and counsel’s fees if the matter is settled at the negotiation hearing (as the majority of cases do). These costs can be reduced if there have been Form Es and offers made previously. The costs may increase if there are numerous or complex issues.
If your matter does not settle at the negotiation hearing, there will be further hearings before you progress to a full contested final hearing. These hearings will cost anywhere between £15,000 and £50,000, plus VAT.
Our firm will provide suitable quotes if this happens, although only a small number of cases reach this stage.
In rare cases where the divorce is contested or where (more frequently) there are financial and/or child arrangements to resolve, solicitor costs can typically range from £2,500 to £25,000, especially if additional court proceedings are required.
Everybody’s situation is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to getting a divorce.
Our firm ensures that their clients receive regular updates, so you are fully aware of the costs being incurred on your file.
You can get help with your court fees if you have little or no savings, receive specific benefits, or have a low income.
You may be eligible for legal aid to pay your solicitor’s fees if there is evidence of domestic violence, or if child abduction is involved. You may also be able to get legal aid to help with the cost of mediation and you may need to also complete a financial assessment.
Please be advised, our firm does not offer Legal Aid.