Who pays the legal fees in a divorce?

When divorce is the only option, most people’s first thought is, how much is this going to cost to resolve?

Not necessarily the lawyer’s fees, but splitting the house, pensions, and savings etc.

It’s important to know what the law says about paying legal fees for a divorce in England and Wales.

There appears to be a myth that the other side (known as the Respondent) always pays the fees for a divorce when in reality this is not the case in the majority of divorce cases.

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    In 90% of divorce cases in the UK, it will be the person initiating the divorce proceedings (Petitioner), who pays the legal fees and court fees.

    Of course, couples can come to an amicable agreement between themselves regarding the divorce costs.

    One spouse may agree to pay for the legal fees and court fees and offset the total cost against assets such as joint savings.

    Who pays what will likely depend on the circumstances of each couple and how well they get on following the separation.

    There are no hard or fast rules for paying divorce costs, especially when it comes to starting proceedings.

    What are the fees in a divorce?

    Regardless of how you choose to file for divorce, be it with an online divorce provider, a local solicitor or you go alone and do it yourself, there is still a court fee to pay.

    If you just want to get divorced and not secure your finances afterward by obtaining a consent order that is the only fee payable.

    If you want to obtain a legally binding financial order there is an additional court fee to pay, which is outlined below;

    • £593 is the court fee to apply for a divorce
    • £53 is the court fee to apply for a consent order

    If you are on a low-income or receive certain benefits you may be eligible for a court fee remission.

    The petitioner always pays the divorce fees

    Initially, the person filing for the divorce (known as the Petitioner) will always pay the divorce filing fee.

    The court fees are paid to the court to prove the administration for the divorce process.

    The fee to apply for a divorce in England and Wales is currently £593, which has recently risen from £550.

    This new fee to file for divorce now includes your entire divorce process with no extra or separate payments required.

    If the petitioner is on a low income they may get help with paying this fee, known as court fee remission.

    The petitioner can ask for the respondent to pay their costs in a fault-based divorce, or in a 2-year separation case if they both agree.

    Divorce fees in fault-based divorces

    In cases where the respondent does not agree, there will be a cost hearing after the decree nisi has been pronounced.

    At this point, the respondent will have an opportunity to argue why they should not pay the costs.

    In most cases, this will be on the basis that you cannot afford to pay the divorce fees.

    A financial assessment will take place and the judge will then decide how much the respondent should pay, they can also order installments.

    Divorce fees can also include any fees incurred by solicitors for the petitioner and they will also be assessed at any costs hearing as to whether they are reasonable or not.

    The judge has guidelines as to what a reasonable fee is, depending on the area you live in and the locality of the court.

    Should I claim the divorce fees from my partner?

    In most cases we deal with here at Divorce-Online, we advise the petitioner to not claim costs, unless they are agreed.

    This is because the petitioner will want the divorce to go through quickly and uninterrupted.

    Claiming for fees may cause the respondent to withdraw co-operation

    A claim for costs will usually cause the Respondent to withdraw their consent and delay the issue of the final decree.

    So, is it really worth not getting your divorce because you have chosen to claim £593 in divorce fees?

    For advice on paying divorce fees or finding out how much you are expected to pay for your divorce, call us on 01793 384 029 or email us today.

    Divorce-Online can help you save over £1,000 on the cost of your divorce when compared to a high-street solicitor.

    This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of Divorce-Online and Managing Director of Online Legal Services Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.


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