There is no doubt about it, getting a divorce is an expensive business. The average cost, according to Aviva’s Family Finances report, is £14,500 – which includes legal fees, child custody costs and changing homes. The report highlights how the cost of divorce has spiralled a further 17% since 2014 when divorces in the UK cost, on average, £12,432.
It doesn’t stop there. There are also relocation costs. Those wanting to buy a new property have to spend an extra £144,600, or £35,000 in order to rent somewhere.
Most people going through a divorce don’t have money to burn – unless of course you are Ant McPartlin of Ant and Dec fame, who is reportedly offering his former wife Lisa Armstrong a £31 million divorce settlement; half of his £62 million fortune.
So why are divorces so expensive? Legal fees are the answer. They have increased by 109% from £1,280 to £2,679 in the last three years, and additional legal fees, as part of a child custody battle, have increased by 62% from £3,500 to £5,671.
Overall, the figures send the total cost of the UK’s divorce bill to £1.7 billion annually, fuelled by a 6% rise in the number of break-ups year-on-year.
So is there such a thing as a cheap divorce? Yes. National family law provider Co-op Legal Services has launched a fully comprehensive digital divorce service, enabling people to start their divorce online, supported by phone-based advice provided by experienced solicitors.
The new service means that couples who have made the decision to end their marriage can start their divorce from home at a time that suits them. The service could potentially cut the amount of time it takes to complete a non-contested divorce by a third, from a potential 6 – 9 months to 4 – 6 months.
There is a catch, though. The service will only be available for non-contested divorces in England and Wales, where a couple have made the mutual decision to divorce.
One they’ve started the online process, customers can use the booking system to arrange a follow-up call with a family law solicitor, who completes the papers on their behalf and returns them to the customer for signing. Co-op Legal sends the divorce papers to the Court, who will then liaise with the spouse and ask them to confirm they agree to the divorce. When confirmation is received, the business will complete the divorce on the customer’s behalf.
And the cost? Reasonable. The Co-op offers fixed fees upfront before any legal work begins. Once a quote has been provided, this price will not change. A divorce through Co-op costs from £600 including VAT, plus £550 court fees.
Sadly, with divorces on the increase, Co-op’s service and others like it might be the only way to settle differences cheaply. But that doesn’t necessarily mean things will run smoothly, or in a non-confrontational manner.