and Separation - Free support, information and advice
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information, support and advice people need following the breakdown of a serious relationship.
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Do I need a solicitor or can I use a cheap online divorce service?
Online services, such as our own fixed price divorce service, are a cost effective option so long as you and your spouse have both decided to end the marriage. You also need to be able to agree on what 'grounds for divorce' (reasons) to state in the divorce petition.
The most costly aspect of divorce are disputes over money and, less commonly, disagreements over child contact and residency. A fully contested battle over the financial settlement (known as Ancillary Relief) can take several years and incur legal costs of tens of thousands of pounds. Typically each side retains the services of a solicitor (or family lawyer) and in addition they may hire a barrister to represent them at the family court hearings.
If at all possible you and your spouse should put aside your differences and try to agree a negotiated settlement, sometimes a mediation service can help. If you are able to agree on the finances, then it is possible to get this drafted into a legally binding document called a Consent Order.
How do I find a good divorce solicitor?
The most reliable way to find an effective and efficient solicitor is through personal recommendation.
You can find local family lawyers using our services directory. You can set the search criteria to find:
- family law solicitors who accept legal aid clients, which is a lower cost option for those on low incomes.
- collaborative lawyers who aim to negotiate a settlement without going to court.
- those solicitors who offer a free 30 minute first appontment.
The directory also lists Mediation services and Independent Financial Advisors.
What is the process for getting a divorce?
The complete process consists of three main elements:
1) Dissolving the Marriage - the formal legal process by which the marriage is ended.
This is the part of the process that is covered by most low cost online divorce packages. They usually include the completion and filing of the necessary divorce court forms, including the Form A - Divorce Petition.
2) Financial Arrangements - the process of dividing up the marital assets and agreeing on maintenance/child support.
The main assets to be divided typically include the house (former matrimonial home), savings and pensions. Periodical payments from one spouse to the other are a common feature and include child support payments and spousal maintenance. The size of the 'marital pot' to be divided is known once each party has provided full financial disclosure on a key court document known as Form E.
3) Childcare Arrangements - the process of deciding who the children of the marriage will live with (residency) and how much contact the non-resident parent will have.
Further detail on the whole process is available in our Divorce Guide.