Who Pays The Legal Fees In A Divorce?
Posted on 7th May 2020
The general rule is that each person getting a divorce will be responsible for their own legal costs and the person applying for the divorce (otherwise known as the Petitioner) will be the person responsible for coving the Court Fee which is currently £550. Although in the majority of cases Couples agree to split court fees between them.
In some instances, the petitioner may make an application for costs from the other side (the respondent in the divorce) normally the claim for costs will only be successful in the event of a marriage breakdown where a fault-based reason for the divorce has been relied upon. For example, in the case of adultery or unreasonable behaviour you may be able to make a successful claim for court fees.
In you are on low income or in receipt of benefits then you may also be able to apply to the court for help with fees using an EX160 form.
If you are looking to apply for a costs claim against the respondent, then your Divorce Solicitor will advise you that the best practice is to reach an agreement on costs before the petition is issued with the court. If you are unable to agree the costs then the petitions in the divorce can include a claim for full costs within the petition itself.
If you manage to reach an agreement as to costs at the Decree Nisi stage then a “costs order” can be made. If the costs are not agreed then the petitioner can continue with an application for costs and the court will need to make a decision on the issue. The Court will need to make a decision as to whether the costs claimed are reasonable, they will look at the behaviour and conduct of both parties before and during the divorce process.
If a cost order is made then the respondent in the divorce must comply with the Court Order and if they fail to do so then this would result in action being taken against them hence it is strongly advisable to reach an agreement as to costs before Court.
Additional costs could also be incurred if complications arise in proceedings. Complications can arise in instances where the respondent does not file an Acknowledgement of Service with the Court or indeed you are unable to track down the respondents at all.
Nevertheless, if you’re the Petitioner and the Respondent hasn’t caused any particular issues, then a divorce usually has two cost elements: itemised court fees and solicitor’s costs. It can be difficult to confirm exactly what solicitor’s fees will be at the start of a matter because each case usually has its own individual factors including how wiling both parties are and whether there will be finances and child arrangements to negotiate. It is important to remember to budget, whilst most cases are resolved by negotiation, the outcome of a cost order cannot be guaranteed and usually each party is expected to cover their own legal costs.
In some instances, a settlement can be reached outside of Court and in these instances we recommend that the settlement terms are recorded within a consent order and there is a Court fee of £50 which is payable to the Court.
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