With the cost-of-living crisis hitting as hard as it is, there’s never been a harder time to keep expenses down. But when legal aid is available to limited people, lost working hours, and housing support costs add up, family breakdown and divorce cost the UK taxpayer a staggering £51 billion a year.
With that said, you shouldn’t have to let finances get in the way of your divorce. The last thing you want is to be trapped in an unwanted marriage because you can’t afford to split up. Latest divorce statistics show that 113,505 couples were divorced in 2021, so it’s clear that you aren’t the only one thinking of divorcing your partner or likely worrying about the financial aftermath.
It’s natural to have concerns that the cost of a divorce could eat away at whatever assets you both have and leave you worse off for it. That’s why we’re here to explore your financial options, such as how to handle your home and mortgage, highlight the importance of seeking legal advice, and offer guidance on navigating the financial aspect of divorce. Whether you’re contemplating a divorce or in the midst of one, understanding the long and short-term implications of your choice will empower you to make not just informed decisions, but the right ones for your future.
What’s the least amount I’ll have to pay to get divorced?
The cheapest means of getting divorced involves No-Fault Divorce. Introduced by UK Courts in April 2022, this process allows couples to apply for a divorce without assigning blame or fault to either person. This approach significantly reduces conflict in the early stages of separation and is the simplest, requiring couples to apply for their divorce using the UK Government’s online portal without the need for legal support. There is an unavoidable minimum court fee of £593 for every divorce, but this route requires no legal fees. For couples with no assets to split that are looking to separate amicably, this is the recommended way to do so.
If you choose to fill in the paperwork yourself, without legal guidance, you are at risk of making significant accidental administrative errors. While the paperwork is easy to find online, filling it out isn’t quite as simple. Legal circumstances vary from couple to couple and without advice on your legal position you could unknowingly make several mistakes in your application. This leads to starting the whole process again, meaning waiting for another few months to get the divorce you need. That’s a headache you could do without.
A ’DIY’ Divorce won’t resolve your financial situation
Whilst a ‘DIY divorce’ is cheaper at the outset, it’s important to acknowledge that nothing concerning your financial situation is resolved through this process. To legally separate your finances from your ex-partner’s you need to reach a legally binding financial agreement. For example, if you won the lottery or started a successful business without having reached an agreement, your ex-partner could decide to make a financial claim against you – and it is within their rights to do so.
If you remarry without a financial agreement in place from your previous divorce, you’ll lose the ability to make financial claims against your ex-spouse. The scariest part is this: if your ex-spouse does not remarry, they can still make future claims against you without a financial agreement in place. Getting caught in the ‘remarriage trap’ can be a devastating and unexpected financial blow to divorcees unaware of the risks of DIY divorce.
Without professional legal advice, you could see your property sold or adjusted, pensions shared, and finances drained. Whether you have assets to divide or not, it’s vital to be aware of any potential financial claims against you. Taking professional advice now ensures you reach the financial settlement you need without any unwelcome surprises down the road.
What other divorce options can I afford?
Each divorce case is unique, with different circumstances and goals for every separating couple. Depending on how much you can afford, there are varying lengths you can go to with your divorce.
Option 1. Fixed fee divorce
If you want the confidence that comes from legal support, with the certainty of a fixed cost, NjP’s fixed-fee divorce package is the recommended option. Fixed-fee divorce is a cost-effective solution that provides practical and cost-effective legal support, particularly when both you and your ex are on good terms. Fixed fee divorce is well-suited for cases with or without financial, property, or childcare disputes. Fixed fees offer transparency in costs from the outset for a clearer and more reassuring experience. This structure allows couples to focus on the emotional and logistical side of their divorce without having to worry about any unforeseen legal expenses.
At NjP Solicitors, we offer fixed fee divorce and a pay-as-you-go service, so you can pay for as much, or as little, of our time as you want. We’ll only do the work you’ve paid for in advance, so you have complete control of your budget, no matter how long things take to finalise.
With a fixed-fee divorce package, you’ll get the expert legal advice you need to navigate your divorce with confidence.
Option 2. Solicitor-led divorce
What if things aren’t so simple? Every divorce is different, and some are so complex or difficult that they need more significant legal support to ensure a positive outcome, such as in divorces involving:
Family law matters can be incredibly complex, and not resolving some of the issues that can arise from a divorce could result in devastating, long-lasting consequences. That’s why support from an expert in family law is so crucial in handling conflict in your divorce.
You can also hire a solicitor to handle your divorce financial agreement even if you initially opted for an online or fixed-fee divorce. They can be brought in at a later stage, for an additional fee, to make use of their expertise where it’s needed most and help you reduce the overall costs of your divorce in the long run.
What are my mortgage options in divorce?
One of the biggest financial concerns for many divorcing couples is the impact of mortgage payments. With the current cost-of-living crisis putting financial pressure on households, it’s easy to fear what could happen to your ability to sustain mortgage repayments on a single income. These concerns often lead couples to reconsider divorcing or explore alternative solutions to the division of assets.
In 2022, mortgage rates began to increase, leading to 1 in 10 mortgage holders reporting that they won’t be able to afford their repayments if rates rise any further. For most married couples, the family home is the most valuable joint asset to find a way to split. The way you and your ex-partner decide to handle your property and mortgage will have an enormous impact on not only the outcome of your divorce but whether you can afford to live separately in the first place.
Buying out your spouse’s interest in your property
This involves one partner purchasing the other’s share of the property and transferring the legal and beneficial interest to the paying spouse’s sole name. Generally, the spouse remaining in the property would remortgage it into their sole name. However, seeking specialist advice before accepting any proposals is essential to ensure that your mortgage company will approve the transfer of ownership.
If one spouse wants to remain in the family home then this can be arranged, so long as they are in a position to cover the mortgage payments independently and can afford to buy out their share of the home. In some cases, couples may explore using other financial assets, such as pensions, savings, or investments, to retain the family home. Consulting with a legal professional who is a specialist in divorce and family law will help identify your best options.
Selling the family home when you divorce
When couples are unable to reach an agreement regarding the family home or neither party can afford to buy out the other’s share, selling the property becomes the most viable option. By selling the family home, both parties can share the proceeds once the mortgage has been discharged and all costs and fees related to the sale have been settled.
In divorce financial settlements, the starting point for dividing assets is often on a 50/50 basis. However, various factors are taken into account, such as the welfare of any children involved, the length of the marriage, the ages and health of both parties, and their income-earning capacity. These considerations help determine a fair division of equity.
This may be the best (and only) option if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on who can stay or if neither of you can afford to take on the mortgage individually.
Keeping the home and joint names
In some cases where one spouse cannot secure a mortgage or find alternative housing after divorce, couples may choose to keep the family home with the mortgage remaining in joint names. This arrangement allows the children to continue living in the family home, with the property being sold at a later date, typically when the children reach a certain age.
Keeping the home in joint names provides temporary stability for the family while addressing the challenge of securing independent mortgages post-divorce.
Navigating the Financial Aspect of Divorce
At the end of the day, if you’re considering a divorce, it’s probably for the right reasons. You’re not just looking out for your own interests but for your future. It might be painful now, but you know a divorce will be worth it in the long run. It’s a major decision, and that’s why it’s so important to get it right with the reassurance you need from a legal expert. Your solicitor will advocate for your rights and protect your interests throughout the process, providing invaluable support during this emotionally challenging time.
Remember, you don’t have to face this journey alone. Seeking personalised legal guidance will ensure that your rights are protected, your voice is heard, and your best interests are represented. While divorce can be challenging, with the right support and knowledge, you can overcome financial obstacles and build a secure future for yourself.
NjP Solicitors: Experts in Family Law
Legal troubles can be overwhelming and leave you feeling unsure about your future. At NjP Solicitors, we specialise in family law services, ensuring that you receive the support you need during challenging times. While we work out of the West Midlands based in Telford and Birmingham, we have jurisdiction across the whole of England and Wales so can represent you remotely with ease. From divorce and financial remedy to domestic violence and care proceedings – our team has a wealth of knowledge and expertise at the ready to resolve your case efficiently and successfully. Our services include:
- Family Services
- Change Of Name
- Change Of Name For A Child
- Consent Order
- Unmarried Couples -Cohabitation Agreements
- Unmarried Couples- Cohabitation Disputes
- Child Arrangements
- Domestic Violence/Abuse
- Financial Remedy (Divorce Settlements)
- Pre-nuptial & post-nuptial Agreements
- Separation Agreements
With NjP Solicitors by your side, you can face these challenging times with confidence, knowing that you have a fierce advocate committed to achieving the outcomes you deserve.