Divorce on the Rise Again - but You Can Cut the Costs; Personal Finance FINANCIAL NATIONAL TITLE OF THE YEAR

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Byline: Laura Shannon

MORE than 320 married couples split up each day - and they will spend a collective PS154million in a year in legal costs to get a divorce.

New figures show that the upward trend of husbands and wives sticking together is now in reverse, with 118,140 divorcing during 2012 in England and Wales, a slight increase on the year before.

Many of these couples struggle with the spiralling cost of separation - the most complained about aspect of divorce according to the Legal Ombudsman, which mediates in problems between clients and their lawyers.

Not taking into account the future expense of going it alone, including a new place to live or lost personal savings, the average administrative cost of a divorce is PS1,300. But a large number of cases will cost significantly more, especially if there are big assets in joint names or if circumstances are complex and there are young children involved.

The Mail on Sunday weighs up the options during divorce and what you can expect to pay.

THE initial fee for filing a divorce petition with a local court is PS410 - and this must be paid regardless of whether you are using a solicitor for a 'managed divorce' or through a cheap do-it-yourself website.

If your divorce was initiated before July 2013, you must also pay PS45 for the decree absolute, which finalises the process. You are also likely to need a consent order, which makes an agreement on how assets will be split legally binding. A 'clean break' option ensures both parties take their equal share and neither can make any future claims

WHAT YOU MUST PAY

The fee for getting this document rubber-stamped by a judge is PS45, but it must be drawn up by a solicitor, which can cost anything between PS60 and PS1000, depending on where you buy the service and how complicated your financial affairs are. So before you have even paid for legal help, you've already forked out PS500.

For straightforward cases you could opt for a DIY divorce, where you access all the forms you need for a low price but work through them yourself.

The Quickie-Divorce website offers the

paperwork for PS37, but this doesn't include a consent order. For this, and to have all forms completed and checked, the cost is PS167. There is no need to go to court.

DivorceOnline also offers a fixedfee service for PS299 including a consent order, and a full solicitor-managed divorce for PS399. Co-operative Legal Services has a range of fixed-price options. A straightforward managed divorce, not including court costs, is PS475. If there are likely to be complications you can choose the 'Plus' service for PS750.

If your ex-spouse is the one to initiate the divorce, known as the 'petitioner', fees are reduced to PS300 and PS450 respectively. …