From the Archives: 26th October 2006 - Materialism, Fear and Loathing

The Money ProgrammeThe BBC's Money Programme tomorrow is entitled "The Real Cost of Divorce". I don't yet know whether I'll be able to watch it, but there is a short preview article here. Two things from the article are striking:

Firstly, celebrity lawyer Raymond Tooth is quoted as saying: "A rich man in my view should not marry a poor woman. If he does, then he must have a pre-nuptial agreement". Fair enough, advise a client to enter into a pre-nuptial, but did he really say a rich man should not marry a poor woman? Is he really so materialistic that he considers that wealth, or lack of it, should determine whether two parties marry? I find such a concept as abhorrent as the nonsense that someone from one religious or ethnic background should not marry anyone from a different background.

The second point is the claim in the article that "the average cost of ending a marriage through the British courts is about £13,000 per divorce". Where did this figure come from? I assume the programme will shed some light on this, but it surely cannot take into account the vast majority of divorces that are undefended and where all ancillary matters are resolved by agreement. For the majority of family lawyers who do not represent the rich and famous costs anywhere near this figure are a comparative rarity. Unfortunately, seeing such a figure quoted by as reputable an organisation as the BBC will strike fear into the hearts of many who are contemplating divorce, and add to the general public's loathing of the profession.


  1. Hi John,

    The costs of £13,000 originated from a survey by Norwich Union I believe;

    1. Thanks, Fiona. It's still FAR less than that for most people, all these years later.

  2. The average cost (South East coast) in my experience would be about £1,500 - £2,000.00.

    I have only ever reached this level of costs when financial proceedings have gone to the bitter end of a final hearing.

    1. Yes, that is similar to my experience (in North Kent).

  3. Average cost in my experience is between 10 and 20k per party for AR and the same for contact matters, the figure looks right, indeed a bit low to me, but none of us are able to claim being right as our experiences are unrepresentative.

    Sorry, but if you do think of changing lawyers and say to the prospective new one what the current one says is a fair settlement, they will, without exception, say that you could do better if you move to them, there is rightly a bad reputation in this market place for milking fees and animosity through the process (UB petitions also are not as tame and nice as lawyers have you believe, they also are good to the lawyers in ratcheting up animosity. I would advise people not to do it the way I mention here way. With re to this chap, I have no view on him other than he likes to chew cigars.

  4. Yes if you go into AR proceedings. The majority settle out of Court with a consent order.

    If you're reaching between 10 to 20k for matters that are undefended and agreed then I feel sorry for your clients.

  5. Following on from the costs of divorce, where there are custody issues with children, the costs can escalate even further.

  6. That they settle without a consent order without defence to divorce doesn't make them agreed or inexpensive.


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