Who pays for a divorce?

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Under the No Fault Divorce Law, parties can make Divorce Applications either solely or jointly and the Court fee for either Application currently stands at £593.

If it is a joint Divorce Application, ‘Applicant 1’ pays the fee and, whether it is a sole or joint Application, parties can agree to split the court fee between them by informal agreement. Each party is subject to pay their own legal fees on the matter, if required. However, it is possible that, between themselves, the parties can come up with an amicable agreement regarding the costs, for example one may agree to pay the majority of legal fees and offset the total cost from an asset, such as joint savings.

As of April 2022, when No Fault Divorce came into effect, the Courts are set on a more amicable way of sharing costs, rather than having the Court make a decision to be put into a Court Order. Nevertheless, there are some instances where the Court can order one party to pay some or all of the fees, for example, where there has been clear and obvious misconduct in how one party has dealt with the proceedings.

Financial Agreement

As the Divorce process is now online, it is possible for parties do it themselves, however, we would always suggest both parties obtaining their own independent legal advice. It is important to note that the Court fee for the Divorce does not include any other legal fees. There can be more legal fees that can arise in the Divorce process, for example, if there are any financial settlements to be negotiated. The Divorce itself does not mean that your finances are also separated; this is done by way of a Consent Order, which stands the best chance of being accepted if it is drafted by a solicitor. The Court fee for a Consent Order Application is £53 which, again, can be split if parties wish to do so.

If parties decide to instruct solicitors for advice on their financial situation, and/or to assist with the drafting and filing of the Consent Order, there will be additional costs which will vary case by case as there is no ‘one size fits all’ and needs to be tailored to each specific matter.

Child Arrangements

Deciding on arrangements for children can come hand in hand with separating parties. To assist parents with working together to come to an agreement, a Parenting Plan can be downloaded from the Cafcass website for free. In some circumstances, it can be difficult for parents to find a solution that works for everyone involved, so it may be helpful to bring the parenting plan(s) or any other proposals to a family solicitor or mediator and, if necessary, be made into a legally binding document called a Child Arrangements Order. The Court fee for children proceeding Applications is £232.

Dispute Resolution Options

If parties are unable to come to an agreement and are looking at bringing it into the Family Court, costs can end up amounting to tens of thousands of pounds, when you factor in the fees for instructing a barrister. We understand that going through the Family Court can be a long, expensive, and daunting process so we are passionate about other dispute resolution options to assist parties with coming to agreements regarding their finances and/or child arrangements. Just a few of the many alternatives include Mediation, Arbitration and Collaborative Process which are much more amicable ways forwards and can save parties thousands of pounds. Family Law Partners also offer a process called Agreeable which is tailored to each case and is set at an agreed fixed price variable depending on circumstances. More information on this can be found here.

What if parties are on low income or receive certain state benefits?

Unfortunately, there is no longer public funding  for Divorce in England and Wales unless there has been violence, child abduction, and/or domestic abuse (including coercive control and financial abuse). If either party is on a low income or receiving state benefits, there is a possibility of receiving help with the court fees and this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid.

If Mediation is of interest but one or both parties are on low income, or not working, there is public funding available for Mediation which can cover the cost of the initial meeting to work out if Mediation is going to be suitable for your situation.

Our specialist divorce solicitors understand the importance of minimising the emotional and financial cost for you and your family through a separation, please contact us to discuss your individual circumstances.

Sophie Reynish is a Paralegal in our Brighton Office.

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