Article reference: UK-IA-FAM19

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 (for a very simple and very amicable separation) upwards.

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


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If you can, avoid court

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 attractive 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 out of court 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 recorded in a separation agreement that on divorce all fees are shared, or better that you 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

The largest cost is usually your solicitor. Ask yourself whether you really need one.

If the divorce is undefended - that is, you both agree - there is little point using a solicitor as long as you agree on the division of your finances too.

Using 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.

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

The first step is to research and plan. Net Lawman has many article about divorce on our website. Ensure you have proper grounds for divorce.

Make the initial petition using a petition form from Net Lawman. We supply the official forms for free, and also include help and examples as to how to complete them.

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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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