Get professional help with divorce or dissolution

If you and your partner are separating, you may be able to sort everything out without taking legal or other professional advice. But if your ex-partner won’t stick to what you’ve agreed or you want to know what your rights are, it may be worth taking professional advice.

 

Do you need a solicitor to get divorced or dissolve your civil partnership?

Using a mediator

A mediator can help you and your ex-partner (husband, wife or civil partner) reach your own agreement about children and financial matters. They don’t take sides or give advice – instead, they help couples work towards an agreement. An increasing number of family lawyers are also trained mediators.

Mediation works best where couples trust each other to be open and honest. If you and your ex-partner cannot talk about who should look after the children or how you will divide your money, mediation may not be right for you. It's also not appropriate where there's been domestic abuse or where one partner is controlling or intimidating. A mediator will tell you whether your situation is suitable for mediation.

Mediators can’t give legal advice. That means you should see a solicitor before or during mediation so you know your rights and, if you want a legally-binding agreement, you’ll need to get a solicitor to draw it up.

You can find a mediator

Using a solicitor

A solicitor can give you advice on your rights, responsibilities and entitlements. You can use them to:  

  • Give you independent legal advice, either if you’re negotiating a settlement through mediation or at the start of your process if you’re doing a do-it-yourself divorce or dissolution
  • Negotiate on your behalf directly with your ex-partner’s solicitor
  • Draw up a legal agreement based on what you've agreed independently with your ex-partner
 

A solicitor may give you information about your financial entitlement that you would not otherwise be aware of. However, they can be expensive. Ask if the solicitor offers a fixed fee package.

You can find a solicitor:

Using a collaborative family lawyer

Collaborative family lawyers are specially trained solicitors who can help you reach agreement through a series of meetings with your ex-partner. You and your ex-partner will each hire your own collaborative family lawyer. 

  • You all sign an agreement not to go to court
  • You agree to work together to resolve the issues between you
  • Meetings are carried out face-to-face between all four of you

They are often not used when cohabiting couples split up because the costs can be high.

You can find a collaborative family lawyer:

Using an accountant

An accountant can help to value assets, such as a business. Some accountants specialise in assessing whether one partner is hiding their assets (typically property, a business or investments) or downplaying the value of a business they own. They are called ‘forensic accountants’. 

The right accountant will be expert in valuing businesses – which a lawyer would not usually have experience of doing. However, the costs can be high, especially for a forensic accountant.

You can find a chartered accountant:

Using an actuary

An actuary is unlikely to be used by cohabiting couples who separate because – unlike divorce or dissolution – one partner doesn’t have to share their pension with the other. But if you want your pension to be taken into account when dividing assets, an actuary may be useful, depending on the type of pension.

You can find an actuary on the website of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Using a financial adviser

A financial adviser can advise on issues such as how to divide assets in the most tax-efficient way and how to invest the proceeds of a house sale or similar. You will have to pay for their services; normally, an hourly rate or a fixed fee. Their specialist advice and expertise may be valuable if your financial situation is very complicated and you have joint assets.

You can find an independent financial adviser on the Unbiased website or for financial advisers based in England or Wales who are  accredited as experts in divorce or dissolution on the Resolution website.

Last reviewed: 09/04/2019

This content has been provided by the Money Advice Service