man signing for divorce

How much does a divorce cost?

author: Sarah Neate

By Sarah Neate

Getting a divorce can be a stressful experience, especially when you consider the financial aspect.

The cost of a divorce depends on each case - it won’t necessarily be the same for everyone.

If you both agree to the divorce and the reasons for the divorce, you may not need to get a solicitor involved and go to court.

If neither can agree on the reason for the divorce, then this is where more costs come in. In this instance, you'd need to get a solicitor involved, and you'd have to go to court. 

Filing for divorce  

Filing for divorce is when someone asks the court to end their marriage. To file for divorce, you’ll need £550 for court fees and a divorce petition form (D8) which you can fill out online or download from here.

You’ll then need to file a decree nisi application. A decree nisi is a document where the court says you can divorce. You'll also need to provide your original marriage certificate. If it's not written in English, you’ll need to provide a translated version.

When your decree nisi is approved, you'll be able to get a decree absolute. A decree absolute is a legal document that states your marriage has ended.

The person who files for divorce is the 'petitioner', and they're liable for the £550 court fees on top of any solicitor's fees.

The person who doesn't file for divorce is the 'respondent'.  This person would only have to pay their own solicitor's fees.

Even if you decide to apply for a divorce without any help from a solicitor,  you’d still need to pay the court £550 by law. 

An alternative to divorce is a legal separation, which means you can live apart without ending the marriage. You can apply for a legal separation within your first year of being married. If you're not ready to end the marriage legally, you could apply for a legal separation instead. A legal separation costs £365.

Before you apply

To get a divorce in England or Wales, you need to have been married for over a year, and it needs to be legal in the UK. You need to prove that the UK is where you and or your partner permanently live. You must also prove that your relationship has broken down due to one of these reasons:

  • adultery
  • unreasonable behaviour
  • desertion
  • you have been separated for two years
  • you have been separated for five years.

Before you apply for divorce, there are a few things you should consider first to make the process easier, such as arrangements for your children. You should discuss where they’ll live, how much time they’ll spend with each parent and how they’ll be financially supported (including making child maintenance arrangements).

You and your partner should also discuss how you wish to divide your money and property. If you can agree on these and the reason for your divorce ending, you may be able to avoid any court hearings.

If you can’t agree on these things with your partner and need help settling any of these issues, you could consider using a mediator.

Splitting the costs with your partner

There are some cost claims the petitioner can make when filing for divorce. These are:

  • a full costs claim (this is where the petitioner asks their partner to pay for all the costs involved)
  • no claim for costs (this is where the petitioner accepts responsibility for all costs)
  • no claim for costs providing your partner does not challenge the petition
  • a specific figure such as half the total costs or £550 to pay for the court fee.

Cost claims only cover divorce proceedings as they have nothing to do with any other financial business.

If you want the divorce to go through as quickly as possible, the easiest thing to do is avoid claiming for any costs. However, if you claim for costs and your application is rejected, you’ll have to apply to the court for an adjudication hearing.

For an adjudication hearing, the court will charge you an extra £255, and you’ll also need to pay for the solicitor’s fees. The average cost for solicitor’s fees ranges from £10,00 to £15,000 

If you’re struggling to pay  

If you're on a low income or benefits, you may be able to get legal aid to help cover your legal costs. Another option you can consider is arbitration. To find out more about arbitration, read on here.

For everything, you need to know about borrowing from credit unions, read on here.

Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure that content is correct at the time of publication. Please note that information published on this website does not constitute financial advice, and we aren’t responsible for the content of any external sites.

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