Fixed fee divorce
Fixed fee divorce is designed to provide a cost-effective means of securing a divorce with the knowledge that throughout the process you are receiving expert advice with peace of mind about the cost. Our aim is to help you understand the Court process, what we do for you and the costs involved.
The breakdown of a marriage is an emotional experience for all those involved. Our fixed fee divorce aims to give you peace of mind and includes all the steps from taking your initial instructions through to the Decree Absolute where the Petition is not contested.
What does it cost?
The fees are calculated as follows:-
- Our fees (including VAT) £838.80
- Court fee on filing the Petition £340.00
- Court fee on applying for Decree Absolute £45.00
Those fees are payable in 3 instalments as follows:-
1. £420 which is payable at your first meeting when you will be asked to produce a completed instruction sheet
2. £340 – payable when the Divorce Petition is ready to be sent to the Court. This covers the Court fee payable
3. £463.80 which is payable when we apply for the Decree Nisi
The only other sums that you may have to pay are a fee of £9 if we have to obtain a copy of your marriage certificate and a fee of up to £9 when you swear your Affidavit in support of the Divorce Petition. If you swear this Affidavit at the Court Office, no fee will be payable.
What does this include?
When you first contact us to make an appointment to meet with one of our specialist family law solicitors, we will provide you with an instruction sheet for you to fill in. You will be asked to pass this to your solicitor during your first meeting. That instruction sheet will contain most of the information that we will need in order to conclude your divorce.
Our fixed fee divorce covers the preparation and issue of the Divorce Petition and all the steps that need to be taken to obtain the Decree Absolute in divorce proceedings which are not contested.
If your divorce proceedings become more complex if, for example, your husband or wife defends the proceedings or files their own Divorce Petition, we will notify you of this and give you an estimate of the likely increase in fees including outlining the additional work that will need to be undertaken.
Another common problem which may occur is if your husband or wife fails to return the Acknowledgement of Service of the Divorce Petition after the Court has posted the Petition to them. If this happens it may become necessary to arrange for a further set of the divorce papers to be delivered by hand by an enquiry agent so that the divorce proceedings can be progressed. Should this prove to be necessary, our fees will increase and there will be a fee payable to the enquiry agent. If this situation arises we will advise you in advance of the likely costs involved.
What is not included?
- Any work that becomes necessary if the Divorce Petition becomes defended or if it needs to be altered once it has been issued by the Court
- Enquiry Agent’s fees if the paper have to be served personally on your husband or wife
- The fee payable if we have to obtain a copy marriage certificate
- The cost of swearing the Affidavit in Support of the Divorce Petition
- Any advice and proceedings concerning property, finances and children
If any of the above apply our work will be carried out at a preferential hourly rate and we will provide you with a clear estimate of the likely costs involved.
Can the costs of the divorce be recovered?
Within the Divorce Petition it is possible to ask the Court to Order that your husband or wife contributes to the costs of the divorce proceedings. If such an Order is made this may cover some or all of the fees you incur under this plan. If this is of interest to you we will explain how this works during our initial meeting. Please note, we can give no guarantee of success unless a contribution is agreed between you.
If an Order for costs is made by the Court the cost of one letter to your husband or wife asking for payment of those costs is included. However, the fixed fee does not include the fees for enforcing (i.e. recovering) any Order for costs made within the divorce proceedings. If we have to help you to enforce that Order there will be additional fees involved, some of which may be recoverable from your husband or wife. The likely costs involved will be indicated to you should this be necessary.
What do I do next?
If you would like to proceed, please complete the Instruction Sheet which is available to download from our website. You can either complete the form and e-mail the information to us or alternatively, please bring the completed form to your first meeting
When you come for your first meeting, please bring:-
- Your original marriage certificate or a certified copy from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages
- The completed Instruction Sheet and supporting documents (where appropriate)
- The initial payment
The divorce procedure
To bring your marriage to an end, specific legal steps have to be followed. Neither party to a marriage can apply for a divorce until they have been married for at least one year. In addition, the party seeking the divorce has to be able to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To do this it has to be shown that one or more of the following facts exists:-
- Adultery (that your husband or wife has had an affair)
- Unreasonable behaviour (that your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you can no longer be expected to live together)
- That your husband or wife has deserted you for at least 2 years
- That you have been living apart from your husband or wife for 2 years or more and that your husband or wife agrees that there should be a divorce
- That you have lived apart from your husband or wife for more than 5 years
Any Divorce Petition has to be accompanied by an official copy of your marriage certificate. A photocopy is insufficient. If you have mislaid your marriage certificate and were married in England or Wales, an official copy of your marriage certificate can easily be obtained from the office of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the district in which you were married. Please note that the Court does not return your marriage certificate at the end of the divorce proceedings.
Divorce Petition. This document sets out the details of your marriage, the names, addresses and dates of birth of any children and the grounds for the divorce. If there are any dependent children then a further document known as a Statement of Arrangements for Children has to be prepared setting out information about where the children will live, who looks after them etc. Whilst the Court requires this information about the children it will not interfere with any arrangements that you have made unless there is a very good reason to do so
The Petition and Statement of Arrangements for Children (if appropriate) are sent to the Court with the appropriate Court fee. The Court issues the Petition and a copy is sent to your husband or wife along with a form called an Acknowledgement of Service. In this form your husband or wife states whether they intend to contest the divorce or dispute the arrangements for the children set out in the Statement of Arrangements. It is very unusual for divorce proceedings to be defended
If your husband or wife fails to return the Acknowledgement of Service to the Court it will be necessary for proof to be provided that the Divorce Petition has been received by your husband or wife. This is usually done by arranging for a process server to personally hand a copy of the divorce papers to your husband or wife. Another alternative is to ask the Court to order that service is deemed to have taken place or can be dispensed with. This is something that you can discuss with your solicitor should it prove necessary. Please remember that this work does not form part of the fixed fee
That you have been living apart from your husband or wife for 2 years or more and that your husband or wife agrees that there should be a divorce
If your husband or wife is not contesting or defending the divorce, you will have to swear an oath or affirm that the contents of the Divorce Petition are true. This is done in the form of an Affidavit which is then sent to the Court with a request for Decree Nisi to be pronounced
A District Judge will look at all of the papers and if he or she is satisfied that all of the procedural steps have been complied with, they will order that Decree Nisi can be made on a set date
Six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi has been granted you can apply for the decree to be made absolute. It is the Decree Absolute which brings your marriage to an end
Will it be necessary for me to attend Court?
It is usually not necessary for anyone to attend Court with regard to the divorce proceedings if they are not defended. If the proceedings are contested then there will be a hearing. It is also possible that you may have to attend Court if you are unable to agree the arrangements for your children or for financial provision with your husband or wife.
Are Court proceedings held in public?
Court proceedings relating to Family Law are usually held in private. The press are able to publish the fact that a Decree Nisi of divorce has been pronounced. The information that they are allowed to publish is limited to the names of the couple involved and the basis upon which the divorce was granted but not the actual details of any alleged adultery or unreasonable behaviour. In reality though, the publication of information is very rare.
Can we continue living under the same roof whilst divorce proceedings are on-going?
In some cases it is impractical and unaffordable for the parties to a divorce to make alternative living arrangements. If you are going to continue to live under the same roof for more than 6 months then the Court will normally require you to show that you have been maintaining what are known as separate households i.e. that you are occupying separate bedrooms and making individual arrangements for cooking, shopping, eating and other domestic activities.
Why choose Andersons Solicitors?
Our dedicated family law team are here to help you during what is often a difficult and emotional time. Our solicitors have the necessary experience, confidence and sensitivity to guide you through the process. Listening to you is key to being able to help and assist you through the procedure.
Our solicitors are members of Resolution (formerly the Solicitors’ Family Law Association) and amongst our team we have a Resolution-trained Family Mediator and a Resolution Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer assuring you of the best advice and assistance throughout.