Before explaining who pays the divorce costs in the UK, it’s important to understand the basics of how the divorce process works.
In order to begin the divorce process, one spouse (or their solicitor) has to file a divorce petition. This spouse is known as the petitioner. The other spouse is the respondent.
There is a common myth that the person who pays the divorce costs in the UK is the respondent. However, this is not the case. Most of the time, it will be the petitioner who pays the divorce costs in the UK.
The court fee for applying for a divorce is £550. This is payable whether you use a solicitor or decide to do it yourself.
In some instances, such as if the petitioner is receiving benefits, they may be able to get help with the court fee of £550.
In many cases, the petitioner may want the respondent to pay the legal costs instead, particularly if the respondent is being blamed for the marriage breaking down.
In England and Wales, the petitioner is able to submit a claim for the respondent to pay the costs.
• Unreasonable behaviour
• Two years’ separation (with consent from the other party)
• Five years’ separation (no consent necessary)
Claims for costs are usually only successful when the marriage has broken down because of a fault-based ground (unreasonable behaviour, adultery and desertion).
Normally, it is advisable for the petitioner to reach an agreement with the respondent on divorce costs, before the divorce petition is issued. This way, when the decree nisi stage is reached, the court can make a ‘costs order’.
Otherwise, if an agreement cannot be reached regarding divorce costs and the petitioner decides to go ahead and submit the petition anyway, there may need to be a court hearing to determine who will pay the costs. This can not only delay the divorce process, but can also add to the cost. What’s more, the respondent may choose to withdraw their consent due to the claim for costs, delaying the process further.
Who pays the divorce costs in the UK can sometimes be a difficult issue to resolve. Before submitting your divorce petition, it’s highly recommended to seek independent legal advice, suited to your individual circumstances, from an experienced solicitor, such as Austin Kemp.
Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to divorce, including:
For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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