If you are getting divorced, the amount you pay in legal fees will be one of the things you’ll need to think about. Many people are attracted by the idea of a fixed fee divorce. Here we look at what might typically be included in a fixed fee divorce package from a solicitor and highlight some things you should consider before deciding whether to opt for a fixed-fee arrangement or not.
During divorce family finances are almost inevitably going to come under strain. What was one house will become two and this adds pressure to the household budget. Getting the degree of certainty over legal costs that a fixed fee arrangement with your solicitor provides can provide welcome peace of mind. A word of caution, however. Before agreeing any fixed fee arrangement make sure you know exactly what is covered, and – perhaps more importantly – what’s not covered by your agreement.
Fixed-fee divorce packages: What’s included?
Many family law solicitors offer some kind of fixed-fee divorce. What each firm offers as part of the package will vary. Usually, the package will include:
- A personal consultation with you to explain the divorce procedure, the time frames involved and the documentation you will need to provide to the court
- Preparation of your divorce paperwork, including the application for divorce, application for a conditional order and finalisation of the divorce
- Responding to any queries that you may have during the process
With fixed-fee packages like the one described above, your marriage is legally brought to an end for a reasonable, definite fee.
What might a fixed-fee divorce not include?
From the description of fixed-fee divorce above you’ll see that it only covers the procedural aspects of divorce. Advice about financial settlements, child arrangements and other matters that might be the subject of a dispute between you and your spouse are not included. Nor is the court fee payable when you apply for a divorce (approximately £600.00).
Because of these limitations in most fixed-fee packages we believe they are not appropriate in every case.
Should I opt for a fixed-fee divorce?
In straightforward, uncontentious divorce, opting for a fixed-fee package could well be the best option for you. Where there are no children or the children are grown up, where there has been a short marriage and there is no dispute over finances you may have little need of detailed advice on the nature of your divorce settlement.
In such circumstances a fixed-fee divorce arrangement may well meet your needs.
Remember however that in terms of finances in particular, it is usually advisable to get some legal advice on your settlement – over and above what is covered in any fixed fee package. Even if what is being offered in the way of a financial settlement appears satisfactory to you, assets like pensions, property and business interests are difficult to value accurately and should not be overlooked.
You will be living with the divorce settlement you agree to for a long time, and it is difficult to ask a judge to reopen it in the future if you later realise you received less than you were entitled to.
In conclusion therefore we would say that fixed-fee divorce is an attractive option where issues have been agreed between you and your spouse. However, if you are unsure about financial issues or the is a dispute about child arrangements we would advise you to consider getting additional advice from a solicitor who specialises in divorce.