What Married People Need To Know about The Eye-Watering Cost of Divorce

Do you need to discover the most surprising cost of divorce most couples never budget for?

Forget about financial planning, this is all about your future sanity planning!  I am going to tell you that the financial cost is the easiest thing to work out when it comes to getting divorced. But, if you don't know the unconscious mind control involved in a relationship break-up you could end up getting stung. That's not good for you. It's not good for your ex, and it is most certainly not good if there are children in the marriage. 

If you have internet access and a spreadsheet you can pull in the tools or calculators to run your numbers through. In fact many solicitors will provide you with a budgeting tool to make it even easier for you. If you have never tried to plan and budget for an occasion, now is absolute necessity.

Im going to share some pointers with you in this page. I am going to walk through some of the financial hurdles you might want to anticipate. This isn't to tell you or guide or even to suggest to you what to do. This is to shine a light on the bigger picture to help you with your own decision making. This knowledge alone will save your sanity when all about you are losing theirs!

First things first: Im a life coach not a lawyer, nor am I a financial advisor. This information is shared with you to use as you see fit. Do your own research. Get a professional if you need specific advice. Is that OK? Let's do this. Here's whats coming up:

Getting divorced is so predictable

Relationships break down all the time and it isn't something people usually prepare for. Im guessing that day you or your partner proposed was not intended to be your very first step toward getting a divorce. When couples enter into marriage it should come with health warning. Divorce can seriously damage your wealth.  

I dont know personally of any couples who took out legal advice before they walked down the aisle. Perhaps you should. I do know of people who want to protect their financial position before making the commitment. Pre Nuptial agreements (pre-ups) are gaining in popularity.  

Pre Covid data from the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggested that since the year 2000 an average of 144,556 divorces are registered each year. In 2000 there were 267,961 marriages in the UK. by 2010 (10 years of marriage), 23% had ended in divorce. By 2019 that figure rose to 36%. I hate to think about the impact of lockdowns and isolation. Read more about stress in a relationship.

Divorce is common. In fact getting divorced is predictable. Lawyers can almost predict when enquiries about getting divorce go through the roof. Statistics show that the end of summer holidays and the beginning of the new year are the busiest times of year. You had a lousy summer holiday. You had a lousy Christmas. So you said to yourself "Never again!" 

You're not alone.

The good news is that the end of your relationship doesn't mean the end of the world. It may be the end of what was a lousy relationship but it could also be the start of something magnificent. 

Beyond the average cost of divorce

Whether or not you need legal advice will be massively dependant upon three key questions:

  1. How complex is your financial situation? 
  2. How confident you are at handling the legal paperwork?
  3. How confident are you that you will agree the terms of the divorce?

If you have an amicable relationship breakdown, fairly straight forward assists, no children and you both agree to keep things simple you may discover that your average divorce costs a fraction of your wedding cost you!

You can massively reduce the cost of divorce by doing it yourself, which is perfectly acceptable. If you are able to cut through the legal jargon and confident to file the papers with the court, there is absolutely no reason not to do it yourself.  

If there is any disagreement with your ex, or added complexity to your circumstances it will add to your divorce costs. Complexity may be when you have significant financial investments, businesses, multiple properties and so on. It could also mean if there were any agreements such as a pre-nup in place. If that is the case, it is likely you would be seeking professional advice of the lawyer who arranged the pre-nup. 

Cost of divorce solicitors

Most UK divorce solicitors will charge in the range of £200 per hour - £400 per hour. You may well discover some outside of that range but the majority will sit within that range. 

What do you get for that? You get what you pay for. Professional Advice. On top of the time spent discussing your case you will also be charged for preparation of documents, emails, letter's to the other party, postage, and so on. Whilst the going rates my differ they will still add up, and quickly. 

Even in the simplest of divorces there may be hidden costs that come back to bite you in future which is why you would be well advised to speak with a solicitor/lawyer. At least find someone who can hear your situation and give you clarity on your legal position. Even if you dont hire them to handle the whole divorce, you can still pay for their time to recieve professional advice. You will save a small fortune by filling the papers yourself. 

Many solicitors offer a complete divorce package rate providing that the process will be pretty much routine with no major complexities. Expect to pay more in the bigger cities. 

The biggest point to understand here is that no matter what your grounds for getting divorced are, the cost of divorce will be pretty much the same. It does not matter if there was adultery, unreasonable behaviour or a separation. The outcome will still be the same, so don't waste precious time talking about all the behaviours and emotional upset your partner has caused. It's practically irrelevant and serves no useful purpose in your divorce. Your emotions could be on a roller coaster so beware not to let that spill over into your time with your legal team. You're paying premium rate for their professional advice, not for emotional support.

Cost of divorce mediation

Mediation is fast becoming the norm in divorce cases to help couples negotiate outside of expensive court hearings. Mediation can take away all of the drama and all of the emotion and get down to business for a fraction of the cost of barristers fighting it out in the court room on your behalf. Leave that nonsense for TV drama's and celebrity meltdowns. You will read one later down this page that could make your eyes water.

Your solicitor will normally refer you to mediation and costs can vary around the £100-£200 per session, or could even be included in your overall solicitors fee's. Its worth checking up front exactly what is included and what isn't. 

How many sessions will you need? Depends on how easy you find it to negotiate, to compromise, to settle and agree with your ex. If you are pretty close to finding agreement you might not even need mediation. On the other hand, if you are poles apart, it might not be worth the effort. The key question again is:

How confident are you that you will agree all the terms of the divorce? Think Win-Win. It isn't a competition. It isn't about beating the other person. It is about walking away with your faculties intact and the resources to pick up the pieces and start again. If you cant agree, it will drain you physically, emotionally, spiritually and of course financially.

Cost of divorce courts

Courts charge for you to file for divorce. You will also have to pay for the courts time. Your ex may also try to make a costs order against you which means you pick up their court tab. 

Here is an idea of some of the applications you can make through the courts directly. Approximate court costs in the UK:

  • Application for a divorce,  £340
  • Filing responses/answers and cross-petitions £100  
  • Applications under the Children Act £90  
  • Registering Maintenance £30  
  • Injunctions £60  
  • Application for a detailed assessment £160  
  • Consent Order £45
  • Financial Order £240
  • Making the decree absolute £45 

Most of these you can do yourself, but professional legal advice could help protect your future interests.  

Cost of court orders

Outside of the usual costs of divorce courts you may need additional orders. For example if you dispute paternity and your ex is expecting child maintenance you will have to apply for the court to consider the matter. This is where DNA testing would come in. 

You may need to consider protective measures such as injunctions or preventing your ex taking children out of the country. Each court order will have its own fee involved. Contact your local Family Court, or County Court for details on their rates and take professional legal advice on what is involved in the process. 

Cost of divorce barrister 

In the event of contested matters your solicitor will nominate a barrister to represent you at any court hearing. You will have to pay the barristers fees on top of your solicitors fees. 

Typically, a barrister will be self employed member of a set of chambers. They will pay for a clerk to manage their diaries and case load. Barristers usually charge on a daily basis or per hearing to act as counsel at court. The fee can depend on complexity of the case and the amount of papers to read (ever wondered why the court files are so big?)

Costs can range from around £500 for a single court appearance depending upon the barrister that is used. That, by the way, also include the situations where a settlement is agreed without a full hearing taking place. These are often called "out of court settlements." 

One crucial thing to remember is every hearing you have a barrister you will also usually be paying the solicitors firm too, because they will send an assistant to take notes. So don't be surprised when the divorce costs go up and up, every time you go to court!

The eye-watering cost of divorce settlement

There are always cases where the cost of divorce is almost unimaginable. Even the rich and famous suffer divorce. 

Professional golfer Tiger Woods' divorce from Elin Nordegren in 2010 cost an estimated $710 million.

Actor Ewan McGregor's divorce in 2020 cost half his earnings over the past 20 years plus $432,000 per year spousal support and $180,000 per year child support.

Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos's divorce from MacKenzie Bezos in 2019 is the most expensive divorce settlement at $38 billion.

Source: Wikipedia

Maybe the cost of divorce is just a drop in the ocean, but the cost of divorce settlement can spiral into your emotional, spiritual, and physical well being as well. Just when you think you can get your head around the financial cost of divorce, the excruciating emotional impact of divorce shows up in the shadows!

A life coach can help navigate those emotional obstacles and turn your relationship break-up into a breakthrough.

Hidden Cost of Divorce

These will vary dramatically depending upon your location. City Centre lawyers and particularly in the capital are always going to charge premium rates, and that does not necessarily make them better lawyers.

This is a personal matter for you to negotiate and agree with your legal adviser. For example, you could be charged an hour for the meeting you have with your lawyer then further hour for them to write up the notes of the meting! 

Remember, you are employing them, not the other way round, so set very clear expectations up front. That way you can avoid a nasty surprise in the mail such as an invoice for the notes from your meetings as happened to me! I never asked for the notes, in fact I made my own. I never agreed to pay for the notes. So I didn't. No arguments, I simply stood my ground. That's why you need to read the small print. Get everything clear and unambiguous right from the start. 

A Solicitor will normally give you an estimated overall cost of the divorce based upon the time they think they would spend on your case.  Letters, emails, copying, and court attendance can all add to the overall cost of divorce. 

Never Ending Cost of Divorce

OK so we have covered the basics for you. I sincerely hope this has given you some food for thought. Each individual case is going to present its own unique challenges and unfortunately, it doesn't end there. You may also factor in independent financial advice, professional debt advice, conveyancing fees if there is a property to be sold, you may need personal or business accounts prepared for the court. You may also seek out counselling or other emotional support.

Remember the key questions?

  1. How complex is your financial situation? 
  2. How confident you are at handling the legal paperwork?
  3. How confident are you that you will agree the terms of the divorce?

If you get it wrong, it could end up costing much more than you think. Make sure you get the right level professional advice to meet your needs. A few hundred or even a few thousand dollars (pounds) invested now could save you a small fortune in future. 

I sincerely hope this has been a good investment of your time and you are better able to step back and look at the big picture. If you want to keep me in your team register for my free newsletter below.

To your success!


The Relationship Breakthrough Coach

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Relationship Breakthrough Coach provides life coaching in Mossley, Tameside, Uppermill, Saddleworth, and all surrounding areas. Sessions are available for men, women and couples who are ready to transform their health wealth and relationships.

Life coaching is a journey of self discovery. Your journey starts with your next step. You don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take the next step. The power of life coaching will unlock your personal power to overcome obstacles that show up while you get to work on your dreams.

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