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What you should know about the divorce process

Some things you might want to know if you are separating from your spouse

Divorce, living together and family issues

decorative image for guidance blogIn these current tough times, the cost-of-living crisis is putting pressure on couples. As well as increasing the likelihood of divorce, it is making it harder for people to afford to get divorced.

Here are some thoughts on how that might impact people contemplating divorce.

Legal Aid is not generally available for divorce unless domestic violence, child abduction or homelessness are involved. So sadly most people are left having to pay for a divorce themselves, even if money is very tight.

Many solicitors offer a free initial meeting and fixed fee divorces. You could use a website like ours to choose a solicitor who offers that, simply search at

The sort of fixed fees that lots of solicitors offer for divorces are in the region of £500 to £1000, however, it’s important to appreciate that VAT and disbursements such as Court fees would probably be added to that. The current court fee for divorce is £593. There are exemptions for people on lower incomes so it is worth checking if you qualify for an exemption.

It’s also important to be clear about what the fixed fee is for, if speaking to a solicitor. The act of actually getting divorced is now fairly straightforward and would be covered in that sort of fixed fee. But what is almost certainly not is disputes about finances or children. If you have to pay solicitors to resolve those then the fees could run to thousands of pounds. For that reason many couples try to agree those matters amicably and just get solicitors to draw up the agreement.

There was a major change in divorce law in April 2022 which now makes it easier to get divorced. It is possible to apply for a divorce online and it is not necessary to use a solicitor. Read our guidance about the online divorce process.

It is no longer necessary to prove reasons such as adultery, for a divorce and the other spouse cannot object to the divorce save on some very technical legal grounds, which will be rare.

There are waiting periods built into the new system so even going at it’s fastest it will take just over 6 months to get divorced, but in many instances it could be longer because of court delays and, more importantly, it might be necessary to delay a divorce while finances and children issues are resolved.

Although its is possible to apply for a divorce without using a solicitor, finalising the divorce could affect your rights to any house you live in, or pensions for example. So, it is sensible to consult a solicitor for legal advice before starting divorce proceedings or finalising them. That way you know what your rights are and you don’t give away entitlements inadvertently. It may be tempting to save money by not using a solicitor, but even if you have agreed most things with your spouse, some solicitors will offer a fixed fee arrangement where they will check what you have agreed and what you are proposing to do, so you know you have got it right and won’t disadvantage yourself. Also they can make sure that what you have agreed is legal, will work and will be accepted by the courts.

Under the new divorce law, it is very unlikely that you will actually have to attend a court hearing but the courts still control the divorce process and it is necessary to follow the court rules.

The current cost of living crisis is also putting pressure on divorcing couples living arrangements. An agreement known as “nesting” has been talked about in the media as one possible solution to housing problems in divorce. These sorts of agreements occur where the couple agree that the children will stay living in the house and each spouse will take it in turns to live with the children in the former matrimonial home. This has the benefit of giving the children a stable and known environment. However, it does mean that there are really three properties required because each spouse has to have somewhere to live when its not their turn to be with the children, as well as maintaining the former matrimonial home. It also requires a high degree of co-operation because who will be residing in the home on what dates must be agreed. Then there are the basic issues around who stocks the fridge! So, these arrangements tend to be temporary while the children adjust and the spouses find more permanent housing themselves.

While there are many benefits to an amicable divorce and it pays to agree what you can, it’s sensible to still involve solicitors before finalising things. Our website can help you find solicitors specialising in divorce. Simply search for free and without providing any of your personal details at You might also find some of our other guidance articles on divorce such as “Does the final order in a divorce sever your financial ties?”, "How to find and choose a divorce lawyer" or "Make sure your lawyer is regulated - how do you know?"