Divorce: who pays the legal fees?

In this article we discuss the cost of the divorce process. By that we mean the divorce (that is the easy part), children arrangements and financial settlement. Together, those elements are likely to cost each of you from £5,000 (very simple; very amicable) to £100,000.

This article explains how divorce costs are divided and how to lower the cost of your divorce.


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In this article we refer to the cost of the divorce process. By that we mean the divorce (that is the easy part) children arrangements and financial settlement. Together, those elements are likely to cost each of you from £5,000 (very simple; very amicable) to £100,000.

This article explains how divorce costs are divided and how to lower the cost of our divorce.

Petitioner pays

In every aspect of family law - divorce, children and money - the Court has far greater discretion than in most other areas of law. Sometimes we forget that a judge is only human too. You wonder why your perfect argument failed.You wonder why the judge seemed to be listening so intently to the young and handsome/pretty solicitor on the other side. You wonder why it seems that the judge is running late and has never read your statement, your argument, or any of the 1001 other pieces of paper in the file. You wonder why you see a different judge every time you appear in court and none of them seems to know anything about your case. So the best you can do is to play by the rules and be thorough in every way.

This applies to legal costs too. So, if ever possible, settle your disagreements and pay less in fees.

Despite prevailing opinion, it really does matter who initiates divorce proceedings. If you are the one who is being divorced (the “respondent”), the Court might order you to pay the legal fees of both sides. This is unjust, but it is based on the old court principles that if you can prove your case before them, then you will also get your costs. This may be useful for other cases and other judicial systems in the UK, but in the family courts, the result may be unfair.

How to split legal fees:

  • If the divorce is agreed upon by both parties, it is possible to halve the legal fees between the two of you. If your decision to divorce comes some time after you have started to live apart, you may already have a separation agreement which specifies that, on divorce, all fees are shared, or better,, that you use Net Lawman papers and do it yourselves.
  • Of course, it is possible that the person who petitions for the divorce will not seek a court order for costs against his or her spouse.

Cutting costs

Do you really need a solicitor? If the divorce is undefended - that is, you both agree - there is little point using a solicitor as long as the division of your finances is agreed too. A solicitor does not make the divorce any more legal. You can manage the entire process on your own with relative ease by using forms and documents purchased online. Further, you can also purchase legal advice and support online too.

Arrangements for children must be approved by the Court, but the procedure is simple and forms to manage it are also available from Net Lawman.

Here are some situations where it is better to forego the services of a solicitor:

  • If you and your partner agree on the divorce and on the division of property;
  • If you have proper grounds for the divorce;
  • If both of you do not have substantial assets;
  • If you are not challenging child support or maintenance;
  • If your children are of legal age and not minors.

However, if you still need financial assistance from your partner after the divorce, it may be better to get the help of a solicitor to take care of the monthly payments and help make the payments binding.

How to manage your own divorce

Research and plan: read articles such as the free articles on our website;

Ensure you have proper grounds for divorce;

Make the initial petition using a petition form from Net Lawman, or any other legal supplier;

Use other Net Lawman forms to complete the divorce process.

Net Lawman stocks all forms and documents you require for an undefended divorce. You can also apply to the court for them to send you the relevant forms; however, these do not come with explanatory notes, completed examples and guidance as the Net Lawman forms do.


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Please note that the information provided on this page:

  • Does not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law;
  • Does not constitute legal advice by Net Lawman;
  • Does not create a contractual relationship;
  • Does not form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.

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