Who pays for a divorce UK?

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Legal Costs of a Divorce


Divorce proceedings can be stressful, and the question of who pays for a divorce (UK) can add additional tension.

When parties are applying for a divorce via a divorce petition in England and Wales, they will have to pay a court fee of £593. This fee will be paid by the applicant. If the divorce is applied for jointly, the fee will be paid for by the first applicant. Often, parties can reach an agreement to equalize this in a financial arrangement e.g. a pay-out from savings.

It should be noted that court costs are not the only disbursement during the divorce process. Unless parties are acting as litigants in person, they will have to pay for solicitor fees. This figure can range depending on the solicitor you choose and the length and complexity of your matter.

In most cases, the costs of divorce include court fees, legal fees, and potentially other expenses such as mediation fees or the cost of obtaining a financial settlement. The exact amount can vary depending on the complexity of the case and whether it is contested or uncontested.

It’s common for each spouse to cover their own legal fees, although sometimes one party may agree to pay some or all of the other party’s legal costs as part of a settlement agreement. If there are financial disputes or disagreements over assets, the court may also consider these costs when making financial orders.

If you are looking for more information regarding who pays for a divorce UK, then our panel of specialist family law solicitors can assist you. Please get in touch today to find out more.


Who pays for a divorce UK – General rule on costs


Typically, each person in a divorce is responsible for their own expenses. This means you’ll cover your solicitor’s fees and the court fee if you’re the one filing for divorce (the applicant). However, the court can order that the other party pay the other’s legal costs if their behavior during the proceedings was unreasonable.

Exceptions to the rule


In divorce proceedings, the applicant can make a claim for some or all of their costs against the respondent. This is done via a costs order which states that the respondent pays the legal fees of the applicant. If an applicant wants to seek a costs order, they must make a separate application stating why they are seeking the order and a summary of the costs which require payment. If the order is granted, the payment must be raised when the final order is granted.  

Previously, it was quite common for costs orders to be drawn up, thus making the respondent pay the legal costs. This was because it was an option on the divorce application to seek a costs order. Since the introduction of the ‘no-fault divorce’, this option was removed and the provision of these orders has become less common.

Under the new divorce process, fault is removed from the consideration of whether to grant an order. The President of the Family Law Division stated in guidance on the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 that “the great majority of applications are likely to be undisputed.” So, it is likely that the list of allowances will be limited and a judge would only grant a costs order if one party has been wholly unreasonable or un-cooperative. Furthermore, an order could be granted if there are jurisdiction issues or issues relating to the validity of the marriage.


Financial settlement costs


Once a divorce has been finalised, other formalities may need arranging. This could include division of assets and agreeing on the arrangements for children.

Although some parties may be able to do this without the intervention of the court, it is also possible for the court to assist. Parties can apply for a consent order which is legally binding and states which assets belong to which party; the court fee will be £53. Due to its legally binding nature, this order is enforceable and some couples may agree to split the court fees for any additional court intervention.


Legal Aid


If you need help paying the court fees and receive certain UK state benefits, you may be able to seek legal aid.

Legal aid is financial assistance provided by the government to individuals who cannot afford legal representation. However, eligibility for legal aid has become more restricted in recent years, particularly for divorce cases.

In England and Wales, legal aid for divorce costs is only available if you are a victim of domestic abuse, child abduction or if a party is at risk of homelessness. Though, you may be able to seek legal aid for mediation costs even if you do not fall within the aforementioned categories.

To establish whether you are eligible for legal aid, you can contact a solicitor with a legal aid contract. They will be able to confirm whether you are eligible. If you are, they can proceed with your case.

In matters where the individual receives money or property upon the conclusion of the matter, money will have to be paid back to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) via a lump sum or monthly instalments.


How our panel of divorce solicitors can help


Our panel of specialist family law firms understand how difficult divorce proceedings can be. As a result, they can be there to handle your case reliably and with care. By updating you throughout the divorce process, you will not be left in the dark. Their assistance will mean that you do not have to be anxious about legal formalities, relying on them to handle the matter instead.

If you are currently going through a separation and would like to seek a divorce, we can be on hand to locate a professional for you. Moreover, we can be of assistance if you would like to seek a financial order

To find out more on who pays for a divorce (UK) and how we can help you, please contact us using the form at the top of the page.


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