Saving Money and Divorce

Saving Money and Divorce

Divorce doesn’t have to be expensive. Depending on the circumstances, it is possible to obtain your divorce from an expert, qualified and adequately insured solicitor, regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for a very reasonable fee.

Some people still believe the cost of divorce to be a reason not to get divorced. If a person is desperately unhappy, in an abusive or simply unhappy relationship, expert solicitors can assist them in changing their life for the better. We offer fixed fee divorces to all our clients starting from £600 plus VAT and court fees. This applies to all divorces which are reasonably straightforward. We will advise at the start of your matter whether your divorce is considered reasonably straightforward and we will also commit ourselves to the fixed fee we quote you. Agreeing a fixed fee for your divorce matter with your solicitor is perhaps the single most effective way of ensuring that you maintain full control of the costs of your proposed divorce. This will mean that there will be no hidden costs for sending letters, taking phone calls or making photocopies of documents and you will also have the peace of mind knowing that an expert Family Law Solicitor is acting for you in your divorce. Many firms will vary their fees depending on teh level of the solicitor acting for you. We on the other hand offer you a simple fixed fee divorce solution and always will allocate you an expert solicitor in the field of law with many years of experience in this field of law.

Three essential pointers to bear in mind when agreeing a fixed fee for your divorce:

Provide clear instructions to your solicitors. Ensure that your soicitor is clear as to what it is that you want to achieve. The more often you change your mind, the more likely this is to create additional work and that can mean additional costs.

Agree a fixed fee for the work which will be conducted for you and ensure that this agreement is in writing and details exactly what steps in the process are included in that fixed fee. We will always provide our clients with this information in writing in the form of a mini-contract and we set out in that agreement exactly what we undertake to do. This way, if there is any misunderstanding, the agreement is in writing and this helps to protect our clients rights.

Do not allow emotions to affect your judgement or decisions in a divorce. Divorces come about when the marriage is in grave difficulties. Divorce will always be emotionally charged, but the job of your lawyer is to ensure that the legal aspects of your divorce are dealt with properly and in your favour wherever possible and that you have the protection of the law. Although we always try to provide our clients with as much emotional support as possible, there is a limit to what we can offer. Also bear in mind that decisions based on emotions are not always the best ones. These decisions are the ones that can often end up costing you a lot more in money terms because they delay the proceedings or take matters down a more complicated route.

If you are contemplating a divorce, we offer a free 30 minute telephone advice line on 020 8401 7352. We will assess your circumstances and advise you of what we can do to help you. This advice is offered on a no obligation basis. If you do decide to proceed with instructing us, we will then send you full written details of our fees, any specific fee arrangements agreed with you, as well as written confirmation of what we shall be doing for you, what you can expect, the timeframes and also a list of documents and steps we need you to take.

Expat Divorces in England

Although most divorces are reasonably straightforward matters, we regularly deal with the complexities that can arise. One issue which can complicate a divorce in England & Wales is where one or both of the parties to the marriage live abroad. These are often called Expat Divorce cases.

A divorce in England & Wales would qualify as an Expat Divorce if:

  • you are originally English or Welsh, currently living in another part of the world and want to use the English courts to obtain your divorce 
  • you have lived outside the UK for a number of years, have recently returned and, want to seek a divorce here 
  • you hold some other nationality and, have made your home in England or Wales and currently live here 
  • your spouse lives outside the UK and either you do not know where they are or there is a disagreement as to where the divorce should be commenced

In addition to the above list there are other factors that can affect divorce and which could amount to an Expat Divorce. Some of these can be quite complicated and that is when you will benefit from expert advice and assistance from specialist Family Law Solcitors with experience of International divorce cases.

If you think you fall into any of the above criteria, you will need to take advantage of our free 30 minute telephone consultation on 020 8401 7352 for a personal assessment of your circumstances

Eligibility for divorce under English law

The relevant question is where is your ordinary place of Residence or ‘Domicile’? For details of teh importance of domicile to divorce proceedings in England, see out factsheet on Divorce and Domicile.

Domicile is a fairly complex legal word and is relavent to your place of birth as well as your current place of residence and, in some circumstances even your intentions in the future.

Our fixed fee expat divorce

Despite the potential complications of an Expat Divorce, we can still offer you a fixed fee solution for this work which takes into account all the work associated with a reasonably straightforward Expat Divorce. See Option D of our Fixed Fee Divorce Fees for details of this.

Deciding where to divorce

There can be many reasons why a person may want to divorce through the English courts. Some couples divorce here because most or all of their assets are located here and others because it may be more straightforward than in other countries or perhaps the laws in England may be more favourable. Before making a decision on where to commence your divorce, you should seek expert independent legal advice.

Contact us for a free 30 minute telephone consultation

Contact Mansouri & Son Solicitors on +44 (0) 20 8401 7352 now for free advice on international divorce or to book an appointment with an expert International Divorce Solicitor

Divorce and Consent Orders

It is a terrible shame that when a marriage breaks down and divorce proceedings become a reality, the parties attitude toward money and the finances of the divorce also takes on a new appearance and, sadly, can often bring out the very worst in people.

The Financial Aspects of a Divorce is called Ancillary Relief. There are four ways in which couples will usually deal with the financial aspects of the divorce (the ancillary relief), but no matter which route you take, to make it legally binding you must have a Consent Order. You could:

  1. agree a financial separation package between them and then encopass this in a legally binding agreement called a Consent Order
  2. not agree on the financial aspects of the divorce and proceed down the court route, called Ancillary Relief
  3. opt for mediation to help agree on terms and then encompass that agreement in a legally binding agreement called a Consent Order
  4. do nothing

We have already dealt with option 4, do nothing, before and for the reasons set out here, it is not a very good idea. Nevertheless it is astonishing how often people opt for this option, only to regret it later.

Option 3, mediation, is excellent if, despite the divorce you both have the ability to sit in a room and discuss the finances of your divorce with an impartial third party in a fair and reasonable manner. Mediation is tough and certainly not ideal for everybody, but when it works, it works quite well. There is no reason why you should not just give mediation a try anyway and, if worst comes worst and you can’t agree, then you still have the option of proceeding down the court route through Ancillary Relief.

Option 2, Ancillary Relief, is a process which is set out in law in some detail. Essentially it involves application being made to the court to assess your financial position and that involves a full and frank disclosure of all your financial details with your former spouse. The procedure for Ancillary Relief is set out here. You can also contact us for a free 30 minute telephone consultation on 020 8401 7352 about the financial aspects of your divorce should you require.

option 1, where you are able to agree the financial aspects of your divorce without recourse to any third party is of course the ideal situation. However; when taking this route, parties should still always ensure that they at least take professional legal advice from an expert family law solicitor. This does not need to be a costly exercise. We often advise people on the pro’s and con’s of the agreement they are reaching with their former spouse and the costs of this advice is often little more than a consultation fee or perhaps a couple of hours of our time. In such a case we would not be ‘representing’ you in your matter, but we would be advising you in the background.

You should bear in mind that a financial settlement needs to take into account many different aspects, including any properties, valuable possessions, business assets or shares, back accounts, savings, investments, and pensions too. This process often involves some form of valuations being carried out. These can be complex valuations involving reports from experts, but in most cases we can value assets for you using relatively cost effective means.

Once an agreement is reached, no matter which route is followed, that agreement must be set out in a legally binding document called a Consent Order. Essentially a Consent Order is a court Order which has been reached by ‘consent’ or by ‘agreement’ between the parties. Therefore the parties will sign the consent order and this will be filed at the court where a Judge will review the agreement and, only once the Judge is satisfied that it is a fair agreement to reach, will the Judge seal the agreement into a legally binding court order, called a Consent Order. The procedure for a Consent Order can still be a relatively straightforward matter, but nevertheless one that still requires expert legal advice before it is filed. Again this does not need to involve endless legal fees and it very often something that we can do on your behalf for a modest fixed fee of a few hundred pounds.

Failing to encompass your agreement in a Consent Order is about as good as not bothering to reach an agreement in the first place. Only Consent Orders are legally binding agreements. Anything written out on the kitchen table, even if witnessed by friends and family is very unlikley to have much legal value if and when it comes to a disagreement. A Consent Order is a final court order and rarely can your ex-spouse question the consent order or try to challenge it through the courts.

Some couples think they don’t need a final Consent Order because they have very little assets, or they agree amicably between themselves who gets what. This approach may be fine for some people but it is a high risk approach. If you do not resolve the finances of your divorce through a Consent Order and say one day you come into money, perhaps an inheritance or you receive a major increase in salary or better still you manage to win a lottery, where there is no Consent Order then there is nothing to say that your ex-spouse cannot bring a financial claim against you, despite the fact that you may have divorced years earlier. When you purchase a brand new camera or camcorder you take out an extra 5 years insurance, ‘just in case’. Well, ensuring that you embody your financial split in a consent order is no less important and may well end up saving you hundreds of thousands of pounds in the long-run. Consider it another insurance policy.

Without a Consent Order, any agreement you reach between yourselves is not legally binding!

Divorce and Talaq

We are one of the leading divorce firms of solicitors representing Muslims in divorce and Talaq proceedings in England.

This is a particularly complex area of the law and it is vital that where there is likelyto be conflict between the English divorce system and the rights and expectations arising out of Sharia marriage, expert and specialist solicitors are consulted.

One of the complexities is that a Talaq (a Sharia or Muslim divorce) is generally not recognised in English law, where the Talaq is obtained in the UK. However; in circumstances where the Talaq is obtained abroad, it is recognised in English law.

A “talaq” (pronounced Talagh) is essentially an Islamic or Sharia divorce.

There are essentially two types of Talaq:

A bare Talaq is where a husband husband pronounces three times ‘I divorce you’. Such a pronouncement has the effect of dissolving the marriage instantly by Sharia law. However; this is not enough to satisfy the English courts

A legally binding Talaq, which is legally enforceable in the country where it is obtained is often, although not always, recognised in English law. this is explained in more detail further down in this article.

There has been some publicity in recent years with some high profile people suggesting that the Sharia divorce laws should have an element of recognition under English law.

However; this has not happened yet and is probably some very far way off. If you live in England & Wales then to obtain a divorce you need to go throughthe English divorce court system. failure to do this will render any Talaq or Sharia divorce invalid and unrecognised in the UK.

That would mean that althoughyou may regard yourself divorced and, to all intents and purposes you may actually be divorced, in law, you might find that you are not divorced and that can lead to all sorts of other legal complexities. For example you would be committing an offence by remarrying.

Essentially the issue of divorce in English law is completely separate from that of a Talaq in Sharia law. There may well be instances where you need assistance in obtaining both.

Specialist divorce lawyers such as us are very often asked to deal with marriages and divorces that have taken place abroad.

We often need to consider whether a foreign marriage or indeed a foreign divorce is valid in the UK and where it is not we can assist you in resolving any outstanding issues under English law.Often these issues can be relatively straightforward and, sometime they can be extremely complex.

The validity of your foreign divorce or Talaq will obviously be of extreme importance if you want to remarry in the UK.

However it can also often be a key factor in relation to the settling the financial aspects of your divorce, called Ancillary Relief. Often it can have considerable implications on the finacial aspects of the divorce, whether you divorced in England or whether your Talaq or Sharia divorce can be shown to be valid.

To assess your particular circumstances we would recommend that you contact us on 020 8401 7352 for an intial free 30 minute telephone consultation.

Through our huge network of contacts and associations in the Muslim community in England & Wales, including many embassies and consulates, we can very often advise and assist you in relation to both your legal English divorce, as well as your Talaq or Sharia divorce.

That way we can protect your legal interests as well as ensuringthat you comply with your Sharia obligations.

We can also assist and advise you where it becomes necessary to obtain declarations as to marital status, for example, where the courts declare that a marriage or divorce should or should not be legally recognised in England and Wales.

As a very general rule any overseas divorce obtained after 4 April 1988 is only recognised under English law if it is valid in the country it was obtained and at the relevant date, i.e. the date the divorce was granted, either the husband or wife were habitually resident or domiciled in that country or a national of that country.

As Talaq divorce is recognised in most Muslim countries then it follows that any Talaq divorce obtained in a Muslim country would be legally binding in England & Wales also, provided the following conditions are satisfied:

How can I obtain a Talaq Divorce that is legally recognisable in the UK?

A Talaq divorce which is recognised in law in a Muslim country or jurisdiction will be recognised in the English legal system provided certain formal requirements as set by the Muslim Family Law Ordinance 1961( MFLO) are met. The include the following requirements:

A husband must give notice in writing of the pronouncement of a Talaq divorce to the Chairman of the Union Council of the Ward in which the couple live.

He must give a copy of this notice to his wife.

There are provisions for attempts at reconciliation during this 90 day period also known as ‘iddat’. During this period the marriage is in a state of suspension and the Talaq divorce can be revoked.

At the end of the 90 days (or at the end of the wifes pregnancy if she is pregnant at this time) the divorce will take effect, unless revoked.

If a full Talaq divorce takes place in a Muslim or Sharia country then it will be recognised under English law only if the above procedures are complied with and

the husband or the wife is a citizen of that Muslim country
or
he or she is habitually resident in the Muslim country
or
he or she is domiciled in the Muslim country

Can a  Talaq be pronounced in the UK only?

A Talaq divorce pronounced in the UK alone will not be recognised by the English courts. The entire procedure must take place outside the UK and inside the Muslim country.

Can an application for financial relief (Ancillary Relief) still be brought under the English legal system, even if I have had my Talaq divorce from abroad?

This is possible, and it is often the case that both parties to the divorce have a valid financial claim, which can be made following the usual process.

It is also worth knowing that an application for Ancillary Relief can be brought in English law, often many many years after the parties divorced. See our article on Clean Break Orders and Divorce for more information on this.

Need further advice?

Call us on 020 8401 7352 to book an appointment with one of our expert divorce lawyers.

Divorce Costs

Quickie Divorces – Cheap Divorces and Divorce Costs

Naturally when starting a divorce, one of the big considerations that will weigh on your mind is the likely costs of the proposed divorce, both in terms of legal fees as well as the financial aspects of the divorce and separation. Divorce can be a costly procedure but this does not need to be the case. Often prospective divorce clients will search around looking for what may be at first glance perceived as a ‘cheap’ or ‘quickie’ divorce. You might make a few calls to some local divorce law firms or, perhaps more often, you may be inclined to search the internet these days for divorce services. When searching google or yahoo for ‘quickie divorce’ or ‘cheap divorce’ you will be inundated by what may appear to be an immense selection of divorce providers. The divorce fees quoted can range from anything from several thousand pounds to the blatantly absurd companies quoting ‘quickie divorces’ for as little as £49

However; as with everything else in life, these ‘quickie divorces’ are not what they may appear to be at first. This article will help to guide you through some of the important issues you should consider when choosing a divorce solicitor.

There is no such thing as a ‘quickie divorce’! However; what these companies are doing is charging you a fee to simply email you a blank divorce petition with a leaflet explaining how you need to complete the form. However; there is much more to the process than filling in a form. To save legal fees you need to carry out a comparison of what ‘value‘ you are getting for your money. Ask yourself:

  • Do you want competent advice about the pro’s and con’s of your proposed divorce?
  • Is this really the best time to seek a divorce, taking account of your current and perceived future financial circumstances?
  • What will be the legal implications of your divorce?
  • What are the possible complications of the proposed divorce?
  • What do you expect to achieve for your children and what arrangements will be made after the divorce?
  • What if your spouse defends the divorce or, as is very often the case, tries to avoid service of the divorce petition?
  • What do you stand to lose after the divorce, financially?
  • What happens to your home after the divorce?
  • How do you ensure that you have a legally binding agreement dealing with the financial aspects of the divorce and separation?
  • What if your spouse denies the allegations set out in the divorce petition?
  • Apart from filling in the divorce petition, what is your legal adviser doing for you?
  • What happens when there are complications in the divorce process?
  • What is the importance of the location of the court where the divorce petition is filed?
  • Do you have any property or assets outside England & Wales?
  • What is the situation if you or your spouse does not live at an address in England & Wales?
  • How do you enforce a divorce abroad?

The issues are immense and it is vital that these are addressed at the start of the proceedings through expert advice from competent solicitors. After all anyone can fill in a court form and file it, but that’s just the start of the process. What happens when, as if often the case, complications arise?

Some useful questions to ask your divorce adviser:

  • Are you registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) as a solicitor?
  • Do you have a practising certificate from the SRA allowing you to practice as a solicitor?
  • What, exactly, is included in the price they are quoting and what is not included?
  • When complications arise, will you attend court on my behalf and defend my case?
  • Will you provide me with advice regarding the financial aspects of my divorce included in the price you have quoted me?
  • What addtional fees will I have to pay, over and above the costs quoted for the divorce?
  • Do you have Professional Indemnity Insurance to cover the work you are doing on my behalf?
  • If anything goes wrong, what is your complaints procedure?
  • If I am not satisfied with your complaints procedure, if there a higher and independent authority to whom you are accountable and to whom I can complain?

As solicitors, we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Everything we do is accountable and we are bound by very strict rules and regulations in relation to the entirety of our relationship with our clients, the courts and third parties. We have to advise you in writing of ‘everything’ and once we do advise you, we can be held accountable. There are real and often very drastic sanctions that are available to the SRA, in the event that a solicitor over-steps the mark. Ther are even rules and how we charge you, what we charge you and where we hold your money until your work is done. To be quite honest being a solicitor is not very easy and it is a pretty stressful occupation. However; we take pride in getting it right, first time and we take even more pride in putting a smile on clients faces. Happy clients mean lots more referrals and that’s what we want! Would you have your boiler at home serviced by an authorised company who will be accountable if the gas blows your house up or, are you happy to have it serviced by a fellow with a spanner who charges £20 and a cup of tea? If your answer to this question is the £20 option then you probably don’t care much about the repercussions of your actions and you certainly dont care much about your own safety and welfare, so maybe a £49 ‘quickie divorce’ is for you.

But if you are the type of person who organises their life, works hard to earn a living and likes to try their best to prepare for some of the uncertainties of life, then you need to ensure that you take proper, regulated, expert legal advice in relation to your proposed divorce. If that sounds like you, then call us on 020 8401 7352 and we will give you a free 30 minute telephone consultation which should tell you exactly where you stand. After that, the decision is all yours. We will not employ hard selling tactics and we are certainly never pushy. We like our clients walking through the door, not being dragged tooth and nail!