Divorce Fees – Who Pays?

Before proceeding with a divorce, you should be as familiar as possible with divorce regulations and procedures – including who is financially responsible for what?

Here is a brief breakdown of divorce costs and who is responsible for paying them.

The unwritten starting point in divorce proceedings is that the person at fault for the breakdown of the marriage (the respondent) should pay the other party’s costs. This includes the Court fee and any legal fees incurred by the petitioner in connection with the divorce.

Before you apply for a divorce a number of practical considerations need to be taken into account.

How much does a divorce cost?

Uncontested divorce

In an uncontested divorce, where both parties agree to the divorce and your finances are straightforward, costs can be low.

Whoever petitions for the divorce will have a pay a fee to the court (currently £550) for any divorce).

You can make the application yourself but if you prefer having a lawyer manage the process for you (including drafting and applying for the divorce petition), you will have to pay the lawyer for his time.

A financial settlement accompanying a divorce petition will add to these costs.

However, if you and your partner can reach an agreement regarding finances yourselves, you will simply have to pay a legal fee to have a lawyer draft a financial remedy consent order and pay a £50 fee to the court. 

Contested divorce

In a contested divorce, where you and your partner cannot reach an agreement, legal costs can be high.

You will have to involve the courts and apply for adjudication (a financial remedy order instead of a consent order).

Here, you will have to pay a court fee of currently £255 and your lawyers fees.

If you would like to stay out of the courts you can opt to propose and discuss a financial settlement using mediation. Upon completing mediation, you will then pay a lawyer a fee to draft a financial remedy consent order. 

On top of the legal costs, almost all divorces also involve lifestyle costs such as moving and living expenses, which can add considerably to the cost of the divorce. 

Who pays for divorce costs?

The person who initiates divorce proceedings, known as the petitioner, is responsible for paying the £550 court fee and other costs associated with the preparation and submission of the divorce paperwork.

If you are the petitioner and have low income or are on certain benefits and may have difficulty paying the court fees, you can apply for help by filling and submitting Form EX160. If your application is successful, you may not have to pay a fee, or you may get some money off. 

Undoubtedly, amicably agreeing to split costs can avoid additional divorce costs and acrimony. Of course, this might not always be possible. 

If you, as the petitioner, believe that the respondent is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage and therefore feel aggrieved about having to pay the legal costs, legal avenues exist for you to claim costs from the respondent. You can apply for a cost order that mandates the respondent to pay these costs.

Usually, the courts will only consider your claim if there are fault-based reasons for the divorce, such as adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour on the part of the respondent.

The court will also take into account a lot of other factors including whether the costs being claimed are reasonable and the conduct of both parties before deciding whether and how the costs will be awarded.

If you need assistance call 0191 4862799 or email jbrown@nechambers.co.uk

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