How to find free advice during a divorce

The decision to file for divorce is rarely an easy one. No matter how far things have broken down with your spouse, the prospect of taking legal action to end a marriage can be daunting, particularly when the reasons for doing so are complex or disputed. Legal bills, the division of assets, and property sales can add up, and it is no surprise that financial strain is common among divorcing couples.

The good news is that there is a whole world of free advice out there to help you navigate each stage of the process, from submitting the initial application to supporting your children through the transition. While getting legal guidance from the internet might sound sketchy, there has been an influx of expert-led websites and forums go live in recent years, making it easier than ever to seek help without breaking the bank. Many of these are managed by qualified legal experts and provide valuable insights to help you get the best result from your divorce.

How much does a divorce cost?

It costs £550 to file a divorce in the UK, which is paid when you submit the application. You can pay this either online or via post, depending on how you decide to submit your application. Although the £550 is a flat fee the Court may charge additional fees “if the divorce includes a request for an order regarding financial and/or child arrangements”.

In many cases, couples will also need to seek legal advice to help with proceedings. This is particularly helpful if the separation is disputed by one side, or when there are complicated financial matters to settle.

In terms of price, legal costs vary from firm to firm. Hourly rates will usually be between £150 and £300 depending upon their firm, region, and experience.

A smooth transition

The divorce process has the potential to be upsetting for the whole family, so preparing yourself for the transition is important.

Solicitor Sadhana Joshi, a family law specialist at Avenue Solicitors, said: “Emotions often run high when you encounter family law issues. You may find yourself in a sensitive, difficult, and emotional situation and it can be hard to be clear in your own mind about what you want the outcome to be.”

The internet also offers a wealth of free advice for parents looking to streamline the process for their children. The free advice website Family Matters has created a variety of comprehensive guides to help support divorcing parents through a range of scenarios.

Writer Josephine Walbank writes: “If you and your partner are going through a divorce, it’s likely that one of the most significant concerns that you will be facing is how this will impact your child. For them, as it is for you, the divorce will mean a massive upheaval in their life as they know it, which will cause grief for the loss of their previous life, as well as stress and anxiety at the changes that they are now having to accommodate. You should not make yourself feel guilty about this – your child will be ok and they will gradually show signs of emotional improvement. There are, also, plenty of things that you can do to help support them along the way, as they grieve and navigate this unanticipated change.”

Assigning blame

Despite a recent spate of high profile challenges, there is still no option for a no-fault divorce in the UK at the moment. This legal requirement to assign blame and provide evidence of wrong-doing often causes problems for couples going through a divorce, particularly when the two parties are unable to reach an agreement.

Currently, couples in the UK must prove one of the following in order to file for divorce:

If none of these applies to your divorce, then advises: “The closest thing to a no-fault divorce would be separation for two years or five years. In the case of separation for two years, the other person’s agreement is required. Both people must have been living apart for two years before either of them can apply for a divorce on the grounds of separation for two years. It should be noted that two people can be living apart even if they live under the same roof.”