“Divorce is a game played by lawyers.” – Cary Grant
Divorce is never easy. When two people that had previously agreed to be together forever finally realise that they’re not meant to be together anymore, it can make a hard job even harder. However, the bulk of the money spent on a divorce doesn’t end up with either party. It ends up with the lawyers. Court fees, lawyers time and time spent squabbling can all add up. So what about low-cost divorce options?
At CashLady, we want you to be smart with your money, no matter the situation. So, we’re on hand to give you some tips on how best to protect your finances during this difficult time.
How much does a divorce cost?
During a divorce, it’s hard to estimate how much the entire process will cost. Some fees, like court fees, are fixed. Others, such as the time of your lawyer, are not. This means that it becomes hard to estimate a total cost.
Court fees can vary based on where in the UK you get divorced. You have to pay them regardless of whether you settle the divorce yourself or you use a lawyer. You should expect court fees to be several hundreds of pounds.
When it comes to a lawyer, this is when the cost can rapidly escalate. Some solicitors will offer a total fixed rate for the entire divorce process, however, this is rare. Many will charge by the hour for their time, as some divorces can take a lot longer than others.
It’s wise to consider getting a cap for your legal fees. Some lawyers will offer this, so always enquire, as this can really help bring down the total cost of a divorce.
For solicitors that charge a fixed rate, costs can start from as little as £250 in total. However, this often does not account for any negotiation of the division of complex assets, for example, a pension. It also will not account for any extra work, should you and your partner not be able to agree on a settlement.
If you decide to go with a solicitor that charges an hourly rate, prices can start from £2,000, all the way up to £30,000 plus VAT. The more work that is involved for a solicitor, the higher the hourly rate will be. Costs can be higher if children are involved, if finances need investigating or sorting out, or if your circumstances are very complicated.
How to protect your finances during a divorce
Usually, your biggest asset to protect during a divorce is property. If the property is in both of your names, it may be wise speak to your mortgage provider and explain what has happened. You will need to come up with a plan to manage your mortgage repayments.
If you have a joint mortgage, remember that you are both responsible for the whole amount. You’re not responsible for half each. By skipping your mortgage repayments to spite the other half, you’re ruining your own credit rating as well.
The next step is to tackle your joint accounts. You will need to contact your bank or loan provider and explain what has happened. This is especially important if your break up is not amicable.
As with a joint mortgage, if you have a joint loan you are both responsible for the entire amount. You’re not responsible for half each.
It may be wise to ask your bank to change how the account is set up so that if either of you wants to draw money out, you need to get the other’s permission. Alternatively, you can always freeze the account – but be aware that you need to both agree if you want to unfreeze it again.
If your workplace pays your wages into a joint account, you should talk to them about paying it into a different account.
You may be able to apply to the court to stop your ex-partner from getting rid of, transferring or selling assets or from moving them abroad if this would prevent a fair financial settlement.
It’s a complex area of law so you should talk to a solicitor as soon as you can.
Tips to save money during a divorce: Low-cost divorce options
Call a therapist
Lawyers may seem like good listeners, but they’re only good listeners when they can charge you. If you call your lawyer up each time the other person annoys you, you’re only shooting yourself in the foot. The lawyers will charge all those hours spent on the phone right back to you, so make the smart choice.
Make sure you mediate
Using a mediator to aid in your divorce will dramatically lower the cost of the divorce, especially if it looks like you’re heading to court. A mediator is normally a third-party lawyer who helps both parties decide what is a fair settlement in the divorce.
In this post on the Huffington Post, the cost of a mediated divorce vs. a litigated divorce was $500 vs. $32,000. That’s one expensive litigation suit, the kind that can leave you looking for a cash loan to tide you over.
In comparison to lawyers, mediators can be relatively cheap to hire. A mediator costs around £100 per hour, and most will only need three or four sessions for a divorce.
Be an adult
The golden rule of keeping your divorce low cost is probably the most basic of them all: be an adult.
Take responsibility for yourself and your situation. Try not to let your hurt feelings trap you in a situation that may leave you worse off financially than if you had stopped fighting them in the courtroom.
Be brave, be strong. Prove to yourself you are tougher than you knew. And most of all, recognise that the best revenge is a well-lived life.
Still need help with your finances? Leave a comment below, or drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t forget that if you need a loan to help you out in an emergency and you have poor credit, why not consider getting a loan through Cash Lady?