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Who pays the divorce costs?

Who pays the divorce costs in the UK is often one of the first questions our clients ask us. In this article, we will explain who pays divorce costs in the UK, so you can begin to prepare yourself financially for the divorce process.


Who pays the divorce costs in the UK?

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.


How much does a divorce cost 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.

Who pays the divorce costs


Who pays the divorce costs in the UK? It’s the petitioner

The petitioner (the person who submitted the divorce petition to start the divorce process) will always pay the fee at the start of the process.

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.


When can the petitioner ask the respondent to pay the divorce costs in the UK?

In England and wales, there are five ‘reasons‘ or ‘grounds’ for divorce that can be cited on a divorce petition:

• Unreasonable behaviour
• Adultery
• Desertion
• 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).


How to get the respondent to pay the divorce costs?

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.


Other articles that may be of interest to you?

How long does a divorce take?

What is the divorce process?

When is decree absolute granted in a divorce?

Decree Nisi – What does this mean in a divorce?

What are the first steps to divorce?

Is a cheap divorce really possible?


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you with a divorce

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to divorce, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on your divorce

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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24th March 2020

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