Fixed fee divorce scheme
At Jacobs & Reeves we know that divorce can be a stressful and emotional time for all parties involved. Unfortunately it is something that many married couples face. We also appreciate that divorce can potentially be an expensive process and that is why Jacobs & Reeves are pleased to offer a Fixed Fee Divorce Scheme. Legal costs are often a main concern for people faced with divorce proceedings and so our Fixed Fee Divorce Scheme means that is one less thing for you to worry about.
ADVICE FOR DIVORCE PETITIONERS
This is when you are making the divorce application and we draft the petition for you.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
If you are the Petitioner the fees for an undefended divorce will be as follows:
1. £450.00 for the initial meeting you have with one of our experienced team, where we will discuss your case and advise you on the best course of action based on your personal circumstances.
2. £550.00 payable on issue of the divorce petition by the Court
3. £450.00 which is payable at the Decree Nisi stage
Our costs (inclusive of VAT) £900.00
Court fee on filing the application £550.00
WHAT WORK WILL BE INCLUDED?
Before the first meeting with one of our team, we ask that you complete an Instruction Form which will provide us with much of the information that we need in advance. You can print off a copy of the form from our website. One of our specialist lawyers will then discuss your circumstances in further detail at your first meeting.
Many divorces proceed undefended and it is likely that you will qualify for our fixed fee scheme.
In the event that the divorce is defended and additional work is required or if the matter becomes more complex, we may need to increase our fees in line with the additional work required, however we will discuss this with you upfront so you will be fully aware of the costs involved.
Another reason why fees may increase is that if your spouse fails to return the acknowledgement of service within the correct time frame. Once the divorce petition is issued by the Court, it is then sent to your spouse or their solicitors. If they fail to deal with the petition when it arrives, we may need to serve a further petition on them. This will normally be handed to them personally by a Process Server so we can be sure that they receive the papers. Process Servers often charge a fixed fee for their services and so we will be able to inform you of the likely cost if this course of action becomes necessary.
WHAT WORK WILL NOT BE INCLUDED IN THE FIXED FEE SCHEME?
- If the divorce is defended
- If we have to employ the services of a Process Server
- The cost of obtaining a copy of your marriage certificate if you are unable to find it. The cost of a replacement marriage certificate is currently £10.00. This must be submitted to the Court with the divorce petition.
- Advice about property, finances and children matters.
- Enforcing an Order for costs.
- A cross petition. This is when the Respondent disagrees with the grounds claimed in the petition and puts forward their own reasons for the breakdown in the marriage
The divorce procedure for dealing with matrimonial finances and children matters is separate to the divorce procedure. This can include matters relating to the family home, pensions, savings, investments and maintenance.
Many people do not realise that they can obtain a divorce without finalising matters in relation to their property, finances and children. If your circumstances do involve such matters, it is important that you seek legal advice from a specialist lawyer who has experience of dealing with those sorts of issues. Here at Jacobs and Reeves our lawyers have extensive experience in dealing with matters involving children and finances. These services will not be covered by our Fixed Fee Divorce Scheme and our fees will be charged on an hourly rate basis. Once we have met with you and we are aware of all of your personal circumstances, we will be able to give you a clear indication of the likely costs involved.
THE GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE
In order to get divorced in England and Wales, you must prove that you have been married for at least one year and that the marriage has broken down.
The Petitioner must prove that the marriage has broken down for one or more of the following reasons:
- Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live together;
- Your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live together;
- You have been separated for at least 2 years and your spouse agrees to the divorce;
- Your spouse deserted you more than 2 years ago; or
- That you have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 5 years.
Based on the information that you provide us with on your Fixed Fee Divorce Instruction Form and during your first meeting, we will be able to advise you on the ground which applies best to your circumstances. This will then be entered on the divorce petition and will form the ‘Grounds of Divorce’.
WHAT DOES THE DIVORCE PROCESS INVOLVE?
The process is begun by filing the divorce petition at Court, together with your marriage certificate and the Court fee. This is currently £550.00.
If you have children, you will also need to give their full details, including which schools they attend and where they are living. This is known as the ‘Statement of Arrangements.’
A copy of the petition and Statement of Arrangements for children is sent to your spouse who is required to complete an Acknowledgement of Service, stating whether or not they agree to the divorce.
UNDEFENDED DIVORCE PROCEDURE
If your spouse files the Acknowledgment of Service at Court, in which they indicate that they do not intend to defend the divorce, then the following procedure will apply:
- If the Court is satisfied with the Acknowledgment of Service then the Court will inform both spouses of the date of pronouncement of the Decree Nisi. A Decree Nisi is the first decree and does not dissolve the marriage.
- The Decree Nisi is pronounced in Court by a Judge. You do not need to attend Court as a copy of the Decree Nisi will be sent to both spouses or their solicitors.
- After six weeks and one day you can apply for a Decree Absolute. A Decree Absolute is the decree which dissolves the marriage.
- If the Court is happy then they will issue the Decree Absolute which will be sent to both spouses or their solicitors.
If the divorce is defended then it will be more complex.
ADVICE FOR DIVORCE RESPONDENTS
If you find yourself in a position where your marriage has broken down and you receive a divorce petition from your spouse, our specialist family team is here to help you. You must file the acknowledgment of service within 8 days of receiving the divorce petition and this is something that we are able to assist through this difficult time.
We are able to offer advice on a fixed fee basis to Respondents who do not intend on contesting the divorce petition.
If you are the Respondent and you do not intend to contest the divorce, then our fees will be fixed at £300 plus VAT. There may also be a Court fee of £155 if the Petitioner does not apply for the Decree Absolute and it is necessary for the Respondent to apply.
WHAT WORK WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE FIXED FEE DIVORCE SCHEME?
- Meeting with you to discuss the divorce petition you have received and advising you of the best course of action based on your individual circumstances.
- Preparing the Acknowledgement of Service on your behalf and serving it on your spouse.
- Overseeing the divorce proceedings throughout and keeping you updated.
WORK NOT INCLUDED UNDER THE FIXED FEE DIVORCE SCHEME
- Representing you at Court if you wish to contest the divorce petition.
- Advice or communication with you or your spouse regarding financial or children matters.
- Attendance at Court in relation to costs applications and defending applications.
- If you have to apply to the Court for the Decree Absolute.
If you are a Respondent and you wish to talk to us about defending a divorce petition, please contact us and one of our team will be able to assist you with this. We will also be able to give you an estimate as to the likely costs involved.
IF MY CIRCUMSTANCES ALSO INVOLVES FINANCES AND/OR CHILDREN, HOW WILL THIS BE DEALT WITH?
We understand that it is best to consider the financial arrangements separately to those for your children.
The financial arrangements for your divorce can be the most stressful and complicated part of the divorce process. The settling of financial matters is referred to as ‘Ancillary Relief.’
We can assist with the arrangement of your financial assets by talking with your spouse or their solicitor. This can be done outside of Court if you and your spouse are able to agree a financial settlement.
If the financial arrangements are complicated and an agreement may not be reached with your spouse on a settlement then we can assist you with Court proceedings.
Whenever children are involved in divorce proceedings, their needs should be a priority. Most parents are able to agree the arrangements regarding their children, although disputes often arise. If you and your spouse cannot agree on where your children should live and/or contact arrangements, then you will need to seek legal advice. In circumstances where parties are unable to agree the arrangements for their children, it may be necessary to ask the Court to decide.
If you need assistance with arrangements involving your children, whether you are a Petitioner or Respondent in divorce proceedings, our experienced team is able to assist you. Such costs would usually be charged at our hourly rates of between £140 and £225 plus VAT depending on the level of experience of your Lawyer.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long will it take to get divorced?
It is not possible to get divorced in less than 3 months due to the process involved and usually where there are issues concerning children and/or finances we estimate at least 6 months to be a more realistic timescale
When can I remarry?
Neither party can remarry until the Decree Absolute has been issued by the Court.
When will I need to pay?
So that you do not have to pay a large bill all in one go, we will ask that you pay the fixed fee in instalments at each of the 3 key stages, which are as follows:
- Issue of Petition
- Application for Decree Nisi
- Application for Decree absolute
This applies whether you are the Petitioner or Respondent.
Will I need to attend Court?
You will not need to attend Court unless the divorce is contested by your spouse. If there are issues to resolve regarding children and finances and these cannot be agreed between the parties, then you may need to attend Court. An Order will be made by the Court based on the individual circumstances of the matter.
When can the Petitioner apply for the Decree Absolute?
Once the Court is happy that the ground for divorce is established, and has issued a Decree Nisi, the Petitioner can apply for the Decree Absolute 6 weeks and 1 day after the Decree Nisi was pronounced.
When can the Respondent apply for the Decree Absolute?
If the Petitioner does not apply for the Decree Absolute and they want to proceed with the divorce, the Respondent can apply. The Respondent must wait 3 months after the Petitioner’s 6 week period to apply. However, the application is not granted automatically and must be considered by the Court. This will often require the attendance at Court.
Why may a Petitioner delay applying for a Decree Absolute?
The Petitioner may want to resolve the financial issues before applying for the Decree Absolute. If a Respondent wishes to apply for the Decree Absolute and the Respondent’s application for a Decree Absolute fails, they may be ordered to pay the Petitioner’s costs of the application. This will be addition to any of their own costs incurred.
If a Petitioner successfully obtains an Order for costs against their spouse, we will write to their spouse or their solicitor on their behalf to recover those fees, but there will be additional costs payable if we have to take enforcement action to enforce the Order. We will be able to discuss this with you if the situation arises.
Will my spouse be liable for my costs?
You may ask the Court to make an Order that your spouse contributes towards the costs of divorce. This may be some or all of the costs you incur under our Fixed Fee Divorce Scheme.
Are the Proceedings Public?
Court proceedings in family law are usually private. This means that the public and press are not allowed access to the Court papers. However, the press are able to publish that a divorce has been pronounced. The information that they may disclose is very limited. They may disclose the “fact” of the divorce but they are not able to publish details of the adultery or unreasonable behaviour
Should I make a new Will?
Yes. This is very important but remember if you re-marry then your will is automatically revoked and you will have to make a new one. We recommend you make a Will immediately and this should be reviewed after the divorce is concluded.
We have a specialist Private Client department at Jacobs and Reeves who can prepare a Will on your behalf. These can also be prepared on a fixed fee basis so please do not hesitate to enquire about this service.
We have offices in Dorset at Poole and Wimborne and provide legal services toBournemouth, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Devon, Berkshire and West Sussex. Many of our services do not require you to visit our offices - so we can effectively serve you with legal advice wherever you are in the UK.