Kelly Hughes

Fixed Fee Divorce – Don’t gamble with your future

As you may be aware, the divorce law in England and Wales changed in April 2022 with the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act.

As a consequence of this, we are now pleased to offer a fixed fee for the making of your divorce application. Our fixed fee is £350 plus VAT.

In addition to this you will be responsible for the Court fee, which is ordinarily £593.

Whilst the divorce proceedings themselves have now been simplified, it is extremely important to consider your financial future and to seek legal advice to understand your options and the impact divorce will have on you, your assets and your future.

Many of us make decisions during our lives that take careful planning and thought, such as meticulously planning a wedding, a new bathroom or kitchen, but we see all too often that individuals do not give the same attention to their financial position in a divorce.

Many people are not aware that although you can apply for a divorce and progress that through to the Final Order (previously called the Decree Absolute), once divorced, yes, you are free to re-marry, but unless you have reached a financial settlement and obtained a Financial Order from the Court, you and your former spouse are still financially linked. Without a Court approved, final and binding Order, the door is left open for a former spouse to make a claim against you and your assets in the future.

Don’t get distracted
Our experience is that individuals can often become distracted with the divorce process itself and not give sufficient consideration to the financial aspects that arise from the breakdown of a marriage and ultimately, a divorce. We have seen many instances where assets, in particular pensions, are overlooked as individuals focus on retaining the family home without giving consideration to how they will support themselves in the future.

The “no fault” divorce law allows people to focus on working towards securing their future without the necessity to dissect and pin blame on a party for the breakdown of their relationship. Once you make the decision to divorce, it is essential to seek legal advice and guidance to gain a clear understanding of how your position can be affected both now and in the future, as you won’t get a second chance.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of our Family Law team to discuss the making of a divorce application, or the financial consequences of doing so, simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

The family lawyer and aerialist

An experienced lawyer, Associate Solicitor Kelly Hughes joined Cullimore Dutton’s Family Law Team in December. Here she talks about why she became a solicitor, the importance of supporting people going through a divorce and her acrobatic hobby.


What inspired your career in the law?

I grew up in North Wales, where I still live, and was always interested in a career in the Law. I took Law at A-Level and really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the problems solving element, and it was my first insight into how the law could impact on people’s lives. I wanted a career where I could help people and if I could do that whilst they were going through a difficult time in their life that gave me a purpose, which I didn’t think I would get in a different career.


How did you get started?

After finishing school, I studied Law at Aberystwyth University and returned locally to attend the College of Law in Christleton. It was shortly after graduating from here that I got my first position at a law firm in Chester and once I had gained valuable hand on experience, I started my training contract, qualifying in 2009. I worked for a number of Cheshire based law firms before joining the Family Team at Cullimore Dutton in December 2022.


What do you love about your work?

The Family Team here at Cullimore Dutton, headed up by our brilliant Head of Department, Brenda Spain, specialise in all aspects of family law. I enjoy the fact that every day is different and hugely varied. Each case turns on its own facts and merits. It is both challenging and rewarding. I also get to engage and meet with a variety of people, each with their own story to tell.

Cullimore Dutton has such a friendly, inclusive team environment which supports everyone from clients to colleagues, and I think this is something that really stands us out from the crowd.

Having been through a divorce myself recently, it has given me a greater understanding of being on the other side of the desk. It’s helped me appreciate much more how the law impacts on an individual, having been through the different stages myself. I’ve found it helps my clients to know I’ve been in their shoes, to know I’ve had to deal with financial matters from their perspective, and that I too co-parent. When I say to clients that things will get better, I’m speaking from experience, which I believe they do value and appreciate.

What advice would you give to people thinking about divorcing?

It’s never easy to make the decision that your marriage is over. But if it is a decision you have made, it is vital to speak to a solicitor as soon as possible, even if it is just to find out where you stand.  There is no “right time” to divorce and we are here to offer whatever support is needed and we can call upon a wealth of experience.

The choice of solicitor is a very personal one. Often clients want a solicitor who is friendly and approachable but they also want to know that their solicitor can fight their corner when required and will support them in the hard decisions they may have to make by offering them the best advice and guidance throughout their case and discussing the options that are open to them and those that are better for them.


Life outside work?

Outside of the office my life is busy with my two young children and our family dog. “Mum’s taxi” would be a fitting nickname! I try and keep active when I can, which can often be a struggle.

I started running in lockdown (following a couch to 5K plan) and I’m planning to enter a 10km this year. I’ve occasionally roped my son into helping me train, riding his bike alongside me when I run. Like lots of people I find committing to a gym membership difficult, but a few years ago I tried Aerial Hoop, having seen a friend post photos on social media, and I’ve been hooked ever since. My daughter does this also and its lovely to have a common hobby with her, although her flexibility far exceeds mine! It is a fun way to exercise and I find I’m able to switch off from work when at the studio and enjoy some well needed down time.

Kelly Hughes

The Split – “What is the secret to a good divorce?”

Many of us have enjoyed the latest series of this gripping and heart-felt BBC drama, The Split. The character, Ruth Defoe, poses the question “what is the secret to a good divorce?”.

Hannah Defoe depicts the kind of lawyer, as well as client when going through her own divorce, who can achieve a good divorce. What is the secret to a good divorce?

In Hannah’s work as a Family lawyer, she manages to balance delivering expert advice in a caring and sensitive manner. She prioritises the welfare and future of her clients’ whole family. She is portrayed as a lawyer with a conscience.

In her own divorce, Hannah is sadly faced with her husband instructing the “Rottweiler with lipstick” type solicitor. Both Hannah and Nathan learn the hard way that this style does not allow them to decide for themselves on what is right for them all as a family in their separation.

The negotiations start to be treated like a strategy, with Nathan’s solicitor focussing on telling him what he should offer. In doing this, they lose sight of the impact on his children and his ability to remain amicable with Hannah.

In the end, we see that Nathan pushes back and decides for himself, choosing to talk with Hannah. This shift allows them all to focus on the new future.

Is this all just fiction and dramatisation?
In my view, No. There is an option for separating couples to have the opportunity to talk through options whilst having lawyers alongside to advise, guide and support them. This is known as Collaborative law. It is not as dramatic as the round-table meetings depicted in The Split; there are no surprise announcements or strategy involved. The meetings are all open discussions where each person’s priorities and concerns are discussed fully and all options are explored openly. A clear commitment is made by everyone involved in the process to reach agreement without applying to Court.

As a Collaborative lawyer myself, I truly believe that this option can help many separating families reach agreement amicably and with dignity and autonomy. It allows separating couples to preserve their co-parenting and familial relationships and be able to move on with their lives and focus on the future. It can also be very cost-effective.

So in answer to Ruth Defoe’s question “what is the secret to a good divorce?”, she wisely points out that:
“We forget to put as much love and care into the divorce as the wedding. It is easy to marry, what is hard is to know how to divorce. Lay down your weapons, resentment, regrets. Let the dust settle. Stop, breathe, and listen to what life has to offer next.”

This is why I became a Family lawyer and trained as a Collaborative lawyer – to help make a positive difference to people’s lives when they face uncertainty and change.

Not just disputes
It was also refreshing in The Split that they highlighted that Family lawyers have a place not only with disputes over finances and child arrangements upon separation. They can also be involved with matters relating to exciting times in people’s lives. For example, it can be important to seek legal advice on matters such as pre-nuptial agreements, adoption, surrogacy and co-habitation agreements. We can offer advise on all aspects of family law.

Family law involves emotions as well as technical legal issues; a lawyer who understands both can truly make a positive difference to families in whatever changes they are embarking on in their lives.

If you would like a free initial consultation with one of our team contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.