Divorce costs alter depending on your location
Divorce can often come at a significant emotional cost, but does it have to come at a significant financial cost as well?
The process comes in different forms with different products available from lawyers, the appropriateness of which depends on the complexity of the case, the level of cooperation between the separating couple and the formalities of the particular jurisdictions involved.
The usual costs include the court fees and your lawyer’s fees, with the rest depending on the amount of work required by them. But the costs also depend on where the divorce takes place.
Where to divorce
A couple does not need to divorce in the place they were married. Instead, the process usually takes place where the couple live, or if expats, they may be able to divorce in either of their home countries. Anyone considering divorce should seek initial advice from a lawyer in the UAE, as well as in their home country and the home country of their spouse.
Remember to ask about the costs, how long it takes and the likely financial outcome. The International Academy of Family Lawyers is a good source of reputable family lawyers around the world. Look for firms that offer fixed fees, or the legal work associated. UAE firms, which service the needs of both Emiratis and expats. charge a fixed fee which includes the drafting of pleadings, court advocacy and advice. A fixed fee can be offered for an agreed div-orce, plus court fees and any translation costs. Others charge by the hour.
Costs by nationality
• Spain: Spanish expats can divorce via Spain’s courts in four months or less. Christopher Lee, a solicitor with Domenech Abogados in Barcelona, charges from €1,800 (Dh7,067) (plus VAT) plus court agent’s fee of €350. If there are no minor children from the marriage, the div-orce may take place through the Spanish Public Notary for a similar price, but quicker than four months.
• South Africa: Divorce for South African expats involves the resolution of all issues including children, division of assets and maintenance. Beverley Clark of Clark’s Attorney’s in Johannesburg estimates that a fairly smooth divorce with a previously agreed settlement, would cost between 20,000 rand (Dh5,466) and 40,000 rand with attorney representation. She adds that an unopposed divorce takes six to eight weeks .
• Scotland: Divorcing Scottish expats can complete the process in Scotland within two to three months if the process is uncontested. Lucia Clark, a solicitor with Morton Fraser in Edinburgh, says where there are no children under the age of 16 and where the basis of divorce is one of the separation grounds, this involves completing a form, which she can process on behalf of clients for a small fee, or which can be completed by the parties themselves. The court fee is £120 (Dh550). If there are children under 16, or if either the behaviour or adultery is involved, the divorce proceeds either to the local sheriff court or the Court of Session. The court fee is £150. For this Ms Clark usually charges £750 plus VAT for an uncontested divorce.
• UK: To divorce through the English courts when uncontested, Expatriate Law charges £1,200, depending on the seniority of the lawyer. Court fees of £550 and courier or service costs are charged in addition. Where clients do more of the work for themselves, they can also try a DIY divorce package for Dh1,400 or £280 – this involves a face-to-face consultation followed by the client completing the process themselves.
• France: Ina Bremer-Proust of CBBC Advocates in Paris says UAE-based French expats can divorce through the French courts with lawyers’ hourly rates varying from €200 to €600 per hour. Ms Bremer-Proust adds that divorce is either based on a settlement or on litigation concluded by a judge’s ruling. The settlement includes provisions for children and/or compensatory benefits, and spousal rights over assets. Once the settlement prepared by the respective lawyers is signed by the parties, a two-week term allows them to reflect on theterms. After that, the divorce is registered with a notary public to become effective and enforceable.
• Australia: Max Meyer, a partner at Pearson Emerson Meyer in Sydney, Australia, says his firm’s costs for an uncontested divorce is between A$250 (Dh700) and A$1,500 with the court filing fee A$865. He says Australia has a “no fault” divorce jurisdiction. The only ground is “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” proved by 12 months’ separation.
The author is a solicitor at Expatriate Law (London).
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