The financial impact of divorce can be far-reaching – some former couples face a reduction in the quality of their lifestyles once they live separately, some take on debt to pay for court costs, and some even stay married because they don’t want to pay or cannot afford to pay to divorce.
Mediation has always helped to reduce costs, by allowing mediators to draw up documents that can then be presented to the courts, substantially cutting the time taken and the legal costs to fully settle a divorce.
But now with no-fault divorce apparently on the horizon as a legal option, couples could stand to save an estimated £2,000 to £10,000, according to a This is Money report.
The figure was given by experts including Co-op Legal Services head of family law Tracey Moloney and BLM family law specialist Daniel Jones, and relates mainly to the cost of contentious divorces under the current system.
Ms Moloney told This is Money: “If ordinarily one party was not in agreement with the divorce proceeding under current law you have to go to court. It’s safe to say that by going to court you will encounter a barrister, instructing solicitor and time from work so you will look at thousands rather than hundreds.”
Mr Jones, a partner at BLM, added: “Parties can spend in excess of £2,000 very easily in negotiating the content of a ‘blame’ divorce petition.”
There are other complications too. At present, blame divorces are used by some couples who want to divorce more quickly than the existing ‘separation’ options allow, which require couples to live separate lives for several years before divorcing.
But because the faster divorce options require one party to take the blame, this also makes that person liable for the legal costs incurred by the petitioning party – an unnecessary financial difficulty introduced by the existing divorce system up to this point.
At Marcia Mediation we believe in Dignity in Divorce, and an important part of that is feeling that you have made the right decision both in terms of your relationship, and in terms of your lifestyle and family finances.
Recent figures from Royal London revealed that nearly half of divorcees take on more hours at work to cover the extra costs of living separately. Nearly a third say they live in more and more debt, and a quarter said they wished they had stayed with their ex because of money.
Much of the debt taken on by divorcing couples is to cover the cost of the divorce itself – a one-off financial hit that can leave both parties in a worse position as they embark on their new and separate lives.
As mediators we work hard to keep divorce proceedings amicable, fast and avoid unnecessary court and legal costs.
If no-fault divorce is introduced as proposed, this will support us further in this aim, allowing more couples to divorce with minimal delay, cost and stress, and delivering even more Dignity in Divorce as a result.