Need to Know: The damage

How much does it cost to get divorced? Mike Stanton prices up the final split

If, last week, in a rush of Valentine's Day euphoria, you tied the conjugal knot and now regret it, be warned. Untying it will take a lot longer and cost you a lot more than a romantic evening down at the local bistro. Just to file a petition for divorce you have to have been married for at least a year and must prove that separation, desertion, adultery or unreasonable behaviour has caused an "irretrievable breakdown" in your relationship.

The most recent government figures show that 41 per cent of marriages end this way. However, as long as your partner is not Ivana Trump the unhitching process should cost you no more than an arm, leaving you with two good legs to walk out of the court and start celebrating. The figures are equally applicable for a man or a woman, and assume neither party is eligible for Legal Aid.

Divorce petition Setting out the reasons for the breakdown, pounds 150 (payable into court)

Decree nisi (first decree) This must be obtained before the marriage can be dissolved, and is pronounced after the judge is satisfied the contents of the petition are true. An oath is taken by the petitioner, pounds 5 (payable to a solicitor)

Decree absolute (final decree) made about six weeks after the decree nisi, this grants the dissolution of the marriage, pounds 20 (payable into court).

Solicitors' fees These vary depending on the content of the petition, where you file and whether children are involved, average, pounds 500

Clothes Sober Gucci suit to wear in court, pounds 820

Haircut Consultation, wash, cut and blow-dry at Vidal Sassoon, pounds 70

House sale Divvying up pounds 150,000 half-decorated two-bedroom flat, estate agent's commission and solicitors' fees, pounds 2,650

Divorce party Post-decree-absolute bash, 40 bottles of Moet & Chandon, 300g Beluga caviare, pounds 1,179.65

Holiday One week's recovery and total life rethink at the Royal St Lucia Hotel in St Lucia, pounds 1,345

Total, pounds 6,739.65

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