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3 Divorce and Separation
2. Where to start
Do I need a solicitor to get divorced?
Where can I find a good solicitor?
'Resolution' is an association of specialist family solicitors. It can give you the names of solicitors in your area who are members.
The Law Society also has a Family Law Panel. Solicitors on this panel have to pass an exam and prove they have family law experience. The Law Society will give you the names of solicitors on this panel in your area.
See 'Further help' for how to get in touch with these and other organisations.
Can I sort out my own divorce?
If you do decide to act for yourself, you will need to contact your local County Court to get the guidance booklets and forms you will need. Phone the Court first to check that it has a divorce section. Its number will be listed in the phone book under 'Courts'. You can also download the forms and booklets from the Court Service website (see 'Further help' for details). The County Court staff will not be able to give you legal advice.
Can I avoid going to court?
A typical mediation service will offer you and your husband or wife a series of meetings with one or two trained mediators. In these meetings you can talk about arrangements for the children and money and see whether you can reach any agreement. If you can, a note will be made of the agreement, and you will both be able to check it with any solicitor you have.
Mediation can sometimes be paid for from public funds (legal aid), but normally you have to pay. It will probably be cheaper, though, than asking a solicitor to negotiate a settlement. Mediation often means that you and your husband or wife have a better relationship, which can be helpful for the future.
For more information about mediation, including how to find mediation services in your area, see the Community Legal Service leaflet 'Family Mediation'.
Do I need a solicitor as well as a mediator?
What will a divorce cost me?
Apart from paying your solicitor, you will have to pay court fees if you are the petitioner (the person wanting the divorce), unless you:
There may be other fees (solicitors call them 'disbursements') for things like property valuations and, possibly, barristers' fees.
Can I get costs back from my husband or wife?
Can I get help with costs if I can't afford them?
You can also have public funding for mediation. The Legal Services Commission leaflet ‘A Practical Guide to Community Legal Service Funding’' for more information about the types of legal aid you can get.
This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Imogen Clout, a solicitor specialising in family law.
Leaflet version: May 2019
CLS Legal Info Leaflets
(Legal Information Leaflets)