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People going through divorce are often unsure as to whether they should use a solicitor or do a DIY divorce.

The decision really isn't as simple as: Option 1) use a solicitor or Option 2) don't use one.

It's more a case of deciding how much solicitor input you need and at which stages in the process.

Some people really should consult a solicitor early on - others may feel confident enough to use solicitors sparingly.

When you should seek early legal advice:

You should consult a solicitor early on in your divorce if any of the following apply:

  • You have a lot of assets at stake
  • You feel you are in a vulnerable financial position compared to your spouse
  • There are any domestic violence or abuse issues
  • You are not confident with paperwork
  • You are unsure what is fair financially
  • You have disagreements over child issues that you have been unable to resolve
  • Many of your assets - and particularly the property you live in - are held in your spouses name only
  • Your spouse is threatening to kick you out of the house - or to cut you off financially
  • Your spouse is not allowing you enough access to your children

When you may only need limited legal advice/assistance:

If all of the following points apply to you - then you may not need to depend fully on solicitors:

  • You have no children or no disagreements at all about the children
  • You are both working and are capable of being financially independent
  • You are fully aware of your joint financial situation
  • You are confident that your spouse doesn't have bank accounts, shares or properties that you don't know about
  • You are already agreed on how to split the finances and are both happy with that agreement

How much can you afford to spend on solicitors?

Here are some examples of couples using solicitors to a lesser or greater extent based on their circumstances and their budget.

1) Very Simple Uncontested Divorce and Agreed Finances

Sarah and Simon are fully agreed on all matters and want the lowest cost solution.
They have no kids, a short marriage and have always kept their finances separate.

Sarah completes the Divorce Petition form herself and submits it to court based on 2 year separation.
Simon receives the court paperwork and responds himself.
Neither felt the need for legal advice on the divorce itself.

Sarah and Simon agree to a simple clean break financial agreement and want no assets or maintenance from each other.
Sarah hires a low cost solicitor to draft a Consent Order. Simon is 100% sure about the finacial agreement and signs without taking legal advice.

In this example the only job the couple used a solicitor for was to draft the consent order.

Amount spent on Solicitor Fees - Approximately £150
Amount spent on Court Fees - £430 

2) Uncontested Divorce and Agreed Finances

Mary and Mark are fully agreed on all matters and want a low cost solution.
They have 2 kids and are agreed on finances and there are no child issues.

Mary purchases a fixed price solicitor service to get the divorce and consent order done.
As part of this package Mary gets legal advice on the divorce and consent order.

Mark receives the court paperwork and responds himself.
He did not feel the need for legal advice on the divorce itself.
However he does consult a solicitor at a fixed rate to get legal advice before signing the Consent Order.

In this example the couple used a solicitor to manage the divorce and consent order and for advice on the consent order before signing.

Amount spent on Solicitor Fees - Approximately £400
Amount spent on Court Fees - £430 

3) Uncontested Divorce and Mediated Finances

Jane and Jim do exactly the same as Mary and Mark about as far as the divorce and Consent Order work.

However, they weren't confident enough to reach their own agreement on finances and so went to mediation to get help finding a fair solution.

Mediation went well and they reached an agreement after 3 sessions.
They each engaged a solicitor to give them legal advice between the mediation sessions.

In this example the solicitors managed the divorce, draft and advised on the consent order and advised on financial matters during the mediation phase.

Amount spent on Solicitor Fees - Approximately £1400
Amount spent on Mediation Costs - Approximately £800
Amount spent on Court Fees - £430
 

4) Uncontested Divorce and some solicitor help with contested finances

Kate and Ken agreed to divorce - but were in strong disagreement over finances.

They went to court over finances but couldn't afford to hand over the whole case to their solicitors.

Instead they did much of the leg work theselves (such as completing Form E) - and used solicitors for advice at key moments and to attend the court hearings.

They eventually settled at the Financial Dispute Resoluction hearing based on the judges opinion.

In this example the solicitors managed the divorce and represented Kate and Ken in their court case over finances.

Amount spent on Solicitor Fees - Approximately £5,000
Amount spent on Court Fees - £670

5) Uncontested Divorce and full solicitor help with contested finances

Zoe and Zack agreed to divorce - but were in strong disagreement over finances.

They each hired a solicitor and went to court over financial matters - they eventually settled at the Financial Dispute Resoluction hearing based on the judges opinion.

In this example the solicitors managed the divorce and represented Kate and Ken in their court case over finances.

Amount spent on Solicitor Fees - Approximately £12,000
Amount spent on Court Fees - £670