Divorce can be a traumatic experience at the best of times, and the ever-increasing cost associated with legal separation only makes matters worse for many estranged couples.
Furthermore, very few couples will be able to claim Legal aid in order to go through the divorce courts now, as only cases in which there has been proven domestic violence are now eligible for this free legal advice and help.
However, there are other ways to get the process moving without digging too deeply into the savings these days, so if you are desperate to finalise your separation but can't afford exorbitant legal fees, these are just a few of the options available to you.
For couples that don't have shared mortgages, properties or other major assets to divide, or custody issues to deal with, a DIY divorce could be the answer. Quickie-divorce.com launched around six years ago, and provides couples with two bargain options - all the paperwork and guidance on exactly what and how to fill it out for just £37, or a £67 package where the firm completes the papers for you and sends them direct to the divorce courts.
Co-operative recently launched their own DIY divorce package, and offer a similar service for just over £118, but in both cases, remember you'll still need to stump up the £385 court fees however cheap your DIY deal.
If you're prepared to put in a good deal of research and hard work, it is possible to organise your own divorce, even where potential problems might rear their ugly heads.
Books such as Divorce for Dummies and the Which? Guide to Divorce and Splitting Up offer advice on coping with everything from handling financial issues and helping children to come to terms with the split, to finding the right lawyer for your case.
However, a more thorough and informed approach might be to invest in divorce lawyer Debra Stevens' recent book How2Divorce, which includes a step-by-step guide to handling all aspects of a breakup, with worksheets to help you resolve common issues.
Where assets and custody issues present a possible stumbling block, or when either party is contesting the divorce, a DIY deal is unlikely to resolve things.
Some law firms now offer fixed-fee deals for cases where things are a little more complicated, which, though more expensive, are considerably cheaper than the hourly rates charged by most solicitors. Furthermore, you won't have to worry about unexpectedly high bills landing on your doorstep if things don't run like clockwork.
Charges can range from around £500 for a basic action with no complications, to £1,400 where a financial agreement has not been reached, and £5,000 for more complex cases requiring a number of court hearings, so it's definitely worth checking your local area for firms that offer such deals. The Co-op's legal department also offers a 'managed divorce' for those who need a little legal advice and expertise, which requires payment of £570 from the petitioner and £360 from the respondent.
Did you opt for a DIY divorce? How did you find the process? Leave your comments below...