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Cost of divorce!!! PLease reassure me!

(16 Posts)
Velcropoodle Sat 29-Dec-12 22:04:16

Hello, I have not posted for many years but have recently returned to Mumsnet. Sadly, my marriage has broken down as my STBXH turned out to be not, as I thought, someone who made a mistake but wanted to put things right(when he had his first affair 10 yrs ago) but a serial philanderer with no remorse or insight.
Anyway, I've engaged a lawyer who has just sent me an outline of costs-and it's enough to make me want to stay married!! And that's just my costs-STBXH's would be presumably similar-leaving not much change from £100K. Yes you read that correctly. So what I have decided to do is as much as I can myself but I hoped someone can reassure me that it is possible to do it yourself even when there are pensions and investments to divvy up. STBXH does not want a divorce, which could be a sticking point. But financially I am better off staying married but separated in any case, so I am quite happy to let things tick along for now.
The lawyer has done the legal job of telling me all the pitfalls of staying married but being separated but of course, this is worse-case scenario. I understand that that doesn't mean worse-case scenario won't happen but really don't want to irritate STBXH by spending money on legal advice when we have the capacity to reach an agreement ourselves-I know it can be done-can it?

Soila Sun 30-Dec-12 08:46:01

Hi Velcropoodle,

Sorry to hear that your marriage has come to an end.

Have you thought about working with a family mediator? They help people reach agreements regarding property and finance as well as arrangements for children.

They are totally impartial and are there to play third party role to help you reach an agreement that works for both of you.

They are far, far, far cheaper than going through solicitors. Only thing is that you both have to attend the mediation sessions.

You can get more information from -

There are loads more - just google Family Mediation

Regarding living separately etc and grounds for divorce check this site -

My husband and I got our divorce after 5 years separation and it cost us about £500 max. Everything had been settled by then including finances and child arrangements.

Good luck and hope it all goes as well as these things can go.

Velcropoodle Sun 30-Dec-12 11:14:08

Thank you Soila, I will check out the websites you suggested. I am just horrified at the putative costs-so much so that I am actually reconsidering the divorce-for the wrong reasons.Thanks again.

Collaborate Sun 30-Dec-12 15:36:09

That cost estimate sounds very very large. Have you gone to a top London firm? Are the assets involved worth 10s of millions? Are they complex assets?

Collaborate Sun 30-Dec-12 15:36:45

And you still need legal advice if you go through mediation. Mediators can't advise.

Velcropoodle Sun 30-Dec-12 17:26:53

Thank you, Collaborate, no-it is NOT a top London firm, and our assets are not worth millions and are not particularly complex although there are a few small properties and some ISAs, and we will need to do pension-sharing. I know there is no such thing as an average divorce but having asked around, several friends have done their own divorces as much as possible and it has cost them hundreds or several thousand not a small mortgage! Also, he has already done £3K of work and billed me when I had asked him to go slow-expecting him to do nothing until I got back to him. It seems he misunderstood-but he had told me that I should delay this divorce as long as possible as I will be financially worse off after the divorce and I accepted his advice
. This is my second solicitor as I had to cancel my instruction to the first due to a serious breach of confidentiality. This second one was recommended but I am now having doubts.
I'm also panicking that I can't stop this haemorrhage of money!

3mum Mon 31-Dec-12 14:35:21

Sounds a lot to me! I am currently going through a divorce using a good London firm and I expect my costs to be about £5k in total and our circumstances sound similar to yours BUT I am doing everything myself except for occasional checking and filing court papers. I will be using a mediator at the end of Jan for any final outstanding points, but I don't think there is a sensible alternative to doing most of it yourself if you want to save costs. I used to be a solicitor (not divorce) so I am very familiar with how they charge.

Think about it - lets say you put in a statement of needs, you pay your solicitor to look at it it and write a letter and send it over to your husband's solicitor who looks at it and writes a letter to your husband who raises a query on it so he writes a letter to your solicitor which your solicitor reads and then produces his own letter to your solicitor with the same query etc. Each time you are paying for input which is not really adding anything to the discussion and sometimes just aggravates things.

Unless you really can't bear to be in the same room as your ex I would plan to (1) sit down with your ex and agree as much as possible (2) take anything not agreed to 3 or 4 sessions with a mediator (if you go outside London it's much cheaper) (3) use your solicitor for a brief sense check (telephone calls are usually cheapest, but make a note of anything said on both sides) after each mediation session and (4) ask the mediator to produce a consent order at the end of your sessions which can just be filed at court and basically rubber stamped.

The additional plus point of mediation is that you can agree things much more flexibly than a court can ever do: for example, continued use of a property by the sea awarded to your ex-husband during the Summer holidays so you and the children get a free holiday.

Long post sorry, but just to say finally, your solicitor MUST abide by your instructions about running up costs. I would give him written instructions about staged charges (email is fine, but make sure you keep a copy) e.g. you may not incur more than an additional £1000 of costs without prior notification to and written agreement by me. If he says that he needs more money to carry out something you have asked then make him justify that it writing and he should not charge you for that. Those justifications are all part of the costs of running a practice. Also insist on fully itemised bills. He will keep time sheets so all he has to do it print them off. Again, you should not be charged for doing this.

Bear in mind his job is to charge as many hours as possible not to be your friend.

Hope that helps!

olgaga Tue 01-Jan-13 11:34:42

You might want to take a look at the links and information here. My friend's divorce has turned out to be long and messy and their costs are nowhere near what you seem to have been quoted.

Velcropoodle Tue 01-Jan-13 16:08:01

Thank you olgaga and 3mum-there is so much useful information here and I already feel more optimistic and have told my solicitor to put the brakes on and let me get on with it as much as possible. I have now learnt a lot about the language he is using and it all seems less daunting. Does anyone have any advice though about how to get a reluctant husband to accept that the divorce will proceed, and at least open negotiations?

vintageviolets Tue 01-Jan-13 16:16:27

I got divorced about 8 years ago. I got the forms from the local law courts we signed them & all together it cost £85.

I haven't typed that wrong by the way, it was definitely under a hundred pounds.

No children though.

Collaborate Tue 01-Jan-13 16:48:33

The court charge £340 just to issue the petition these days, and £45 for the decree absolute.

Hassled Tue 01-Jan-13 16:52:06

ExH and I divorced without any involvement from the solicitors at all - we just filled in the forms available here and did it ourselves. There was a fee, but it wasn't exorbitant. We do have DCs together, but had reached an agreement re shared parenting, and had no assets to speak of (we rented).

Hassled Tue 01-Jan-13 16:53:37

£340? Blimey. My memory is more like £75 - this was some years ago, but not decades. That's an insane rate of inflation.

Soila Wed 02-Jan-13 12:14:50

Yes, mediators cannot advise and you would still need advise from a solicitor but they can help lower the costs.

That's right I paid £340 to issue and £45 for decree absolute.

Collaborate Wed 02-Jan-13 16:28:35

That's right. Mediators are in place of solicitors negotiating at arms length via letters. An alternative is collaborative law (natch). It's always best to negotiate face to face.
Mediation is more likely to be successful if you both get good advice, as it gets you both on the same page expectation-wise.

timidviper Wed 02-Jan-13 16:32:20

It sounds a lot. My friend has divorced recently, his costs were under £20k and that was allowing for a very greedy ex-wife who dragged things out trying to get more money from a man on the edge of bankruptcy!

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