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Getting divorced can be a very stressful time in a person’s life, and so the thought of dealing with the associated costs can be an added concern. Who pays for what is something that will be an important factor for most parties but at the same time, the parties will not want to increase the length of the divorce with an extended argument over this issue, which in turn will increase costs.

Here we discuss the various cost implications that will arise during a divorce and who will be the party that needs to meet these costs.

How much does a divorce cost?

Certain set fees need to be paid during the divorce process, regardless of whether the divorce uses court proceedings or not.

Court fees

These include the £550 court fee for a divorce and the £50 court fee to apply for a consent order to formalise the arrangements agreed once the divorce occurs.

Who pays court fees?

Initially, it is the petitioner (the person who applied for the divorce) that must pay these items. This is to ensure that the divorce process can begin knowing that these administrative matters have been taken care of. Those that are on low-income or receive certain benefits (such as those on Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit) may be eligible for a court fee remission and should apply for this via the courts.

The petitioner can apply that the respondent (the other spouse) should pay the court costs and normally this will only be successful in cases where the ground for divorce is fault-based (either adultery, unreasonably behaviour or desertion).

If the ground given is separation, then it is less likely that a claim for costs will be successful. It should be noted that unless the parties have agreed in advance that the respondent will pay the fees, then the process of claiming by the petitioner is going to slow the whole divorce process down. It may be a more pragmatic approach to accept that both parties pay their own costs to ensure that the divorce process is as smooth as possible without delaying the process.

Going through a divorce is difficult for both parties, and it is best to try and avoid any issues that can increase animosity, which in turn can make it harder to agree matters, thus increasing costs.

Solicitor fees

The other major cost is the fees charged by a solicitor to negotiate the divorce, including the financial settlement and possibly child arrangements. Generally, each party is responsible for paying their own costs. It is difficult to state how much this will cost each party since it will depend on many factors, including whether or not the divorce is contested and the complexity of family and financial arrangements.

How do you decide who pays?

It is always advisable for the petitioner and respondent to agree on the costs in advance of the divorce petition being issued. If there is an agreement, then the Court can issue a costs order, which means that the parties will deal with the issue between themselves without the need to resort to further hearings and the process will be quicker and less costly.

If an agreement cannot be reached

If the costs cannot be agreed between the parties, then the courts may need to resolve the dispute and there will need to be a cost hearing after the decree nisi has been given. This is likely to increase costs further, especially where both parties are represented by their own solicitors.

The court will ask the respondent to explain why they should not pay the costs. The court will make a financial assessment to decide if the respondent should be made to pay and how much.

It is possible for payments to be made in instalments rather than as a payment in full. The court can decide that lawyers’ fees can be included and not just court fees, depending on how reasonable they were. The court will determine if the costs claimed are reasonable by looking at the rate of their solicitor, their experience and the level of work performed.

Once a costs order is granted, it must be followed and any breaches can result in enforcement action being taken against the relevant party.

Contact our Divorce Lawyers, London

Our expert family lawyers can advise you on all aspects of divorce, including costs, to make sure you get the best possible result for both you and your family. We understand that the cost of legal proceedings is an important consideration and will always make sure you are always kept informed on these matters. Contact us today on 020 7387 2032 or complete our online enquiry form.

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