Divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships can be affordable or expensive

At a very basic level there are court costs – for applying to have your legal partnership (marriage or civil partnership) ended and then to apply for your financial arrangements to be made legally binding. Where you can come to agreed arrangements the role of the court is to check that these meet requirements and the costs are lower. The courts follow a ‘no order principle’ in relation to children’s arrangements so that where you can reach your own agreements there is no court involvement at all. If you were to process your divorce and financial settlement yourself through the court by consent then the cost would be £410 for the divorce and £45 for the Financial Consent Order (binding court order in relation to finances).

If you want to do it yourself but need help because you argue when you try, or because you want to make sure you’ve covered everything, or you want someone to write it up then mediation is the most cost effective option. In mediation you will sit together with someone who doesn’t take sides or judge or blame, who will keep you focused (on the matter in hand and on the future), who knows what you need to be thinking about and the legal framework you need to work within and who will record your progress and agreements.

Mediation often works best alongside legal advice so that you know someone who is on your side thinks the arrangements you are thinking about are reasonable and that you’re not being taken advantage of. Many people like a solicitor to draft the court paperwork too, partly because solicitors are accustomed to doing it and partly so that they are confident that it will be done correctly. Mediation supported by good legal advice is the approach favoured by the courts.

Alternatives are to use solicitors either to represent you (initially by negotiating with your ex either directly or through their solicitor and if this doesn’t work by applying to the court in contested proceedings) or to do collaborative law. Collaborative law is where you, your ex and your respective solicitors sit together and negotiate agreements. Please note that it can be one of the more expensive options. If agreement can’t be reached then the solicitors involved can’t take your case forward.

The more you use other people to speak for you the more expensive it becomes, the more stressful, the less likely you are to achieve something that works for everyone and the more likely it is to drag out. Sometimes contested cases can go on for years which can be incredibly harmful for all those involved, including the children.

Family Mediation will keep help the costs of your separation, divorce or dissolution down. Family Mediation is often cheaper and quicker than litigation or the court route and has longer lasting outcomes, benefitting all parties involved, especially the children. Mediation offers separating partners the opportunity to think through their pension options as part of financial settlement and to come to decisions that will work for you both. Your mediator will know what information you will need and the right time to seek advice.

National Family Mediation (NFM) is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family

National Family Mediation (NFM) services charge £25-£100 for a MIAM, depending on geographical locality, which may include the fee for the completed FM1 form. Meetings usually last for 45 minutes – 1 hour. This includes the means assessment to check whether you will be eligible for Legal Aid, determining whether your mediation will be free or not. Mediation sessions which follow the initial MIAM are charged at a sliding scale according to income, but start at around £80 per session, and usually last up to 1½ hours.

If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area. All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.

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