It is an incredibly difficult and emotional time for most people when their marriage breaks down. If your marriage is over and you need to divorce, one thing on your mind might be: how much does divorce cost in the UK?
This is a huge worry for many people. How much does a divorce cost? Do I have to use solicitors? What else is going to cost me money?
This article will explain the financial cost of divorce – how much you may have to pay in costs and fees to get a divorce. It will also explain what help is available to reduce or pay these fees if you are on a low income.
How much are the court fees?
Court fees to apply for a divorce in England and Wales from April 2022 are £593. Divorce rules changed in April 2022 and one party no longer has to blame the other for the divorce. One of you can apply on their own, but if you both agree that you want to divorce, you can make a joint application.
The fee is the same for a joint or individual application. However, if only one of you would qualify for help with the fees it might be better for you if that person makes an individual application. We will explain why later in this article.
Do I need solicitors to go to court for my divorce?
The new no-fault divorce rules from April 2022 are intended to do away with most of the need for court hearings in divorce cases. For example, wrong-doing by one of you (adultery or unreasonable behaviour, for example) or that you no longer live together as a married couple no longer has to be proved. One party can no longer contest, or block, the divorce. In the past, this has often dragged proceedings out and increased the cost of employing solicitors to argue your case in court.
Few divorces will now involve any court hearings. The application form is designed to be as straightforward as possible and can be completed and submitted online. However, you might decide you want to ask a solicitor to help you complete the form, or give you legal advice about financial arrangements or child arrangements. If you decide you need some help or advice from a solicitor, you will have to pay their costs as well. Each firm decides its own fees, so it is best to ask several family solicitors near you to give you a quote for the work you want them to do for you and select the firm that you think offers you the best value for money.
Mediation can also be a very cost-effective way to agree these sorts of financial and child arrangements direct with your ex-partner and more amicably.
Will I need to pay for any other advice or help?
As mentioned, one option to help you and your ex-partner agree practical matters like child arrangements or financial settlements can be through mediation. This is usually much less costly than using solicitors and the mediator helps you to agree between yourselves what would be a fair and reasonable solution in your circumstances.
Direct Mediation Services charge £130 to each of you for your MIAM and £130 per hour each for the mediation sessions. The number of sessions you will need depends on how complex the issues are that you need to agree on, but things can often be resolved in two or three sessions.
The financial agreements you reach through mediation can be made legally binding through a Consent Order. Your mediator will be able to tell you the approximate cost involved, as it depends on how complex the Consent Order needs to be. There will also be an extra court fee of £53 (April 2022) to apply for the Order. It is strongly recommended that you take this step to ensure a clean break in financial terms for both of you.
Child arrangements agreed through mediation would not usually be turned into a court order, which would cost an extra £232 (April 2022) in court fees, unless there is a strong reason for the court to intervene. It can take a long time before the courts can find time to hold these hearings, it is often a long process, and CAFCASS are likely to be involved.
Where both parents agree on the arrangements and are prepared to work together, it is often not in the child(ren)’s interests to apply for a court order. Child arrangements should be reviewed and revised as the child(ren)’s needs change as they grow older. If the parents find it difficult to communicate with each other, mediation can be an excellent, and inexpensive, way to keep these conversations focused on the needs of the child(ren) and reach an agreement which, most importantly, is best for them.
How can I get help to pay these costs?
The £593 court fee to apply for a divorce can be difficult for someone on benefits or a low income to afford. Although Legal Aid is not available to help with these costs, if you do not have much in savings and you get certain types of benefits, or are on a low income, you can apply online for help with court fees. There is a calculator here which will show you how much the court fee will be reduced to – based on your income and personal circumstances.
If you are jointly applying for your divorce, you would both have to qualify for help with your court fees. If one of you does not qualify, the full fee has to be paid. So, in this situation, you would save money if the person who qualifies for help with fees makes the divorce application in their own name alone.
Legal Aid is not usually available for help with a solicitor’s fees, unless you are a victim of domestic abuse.
However, Legal Aid is available for mediation costs for people whose income is low, or receive some types of benefits. If you qualify for Legal Aid, this will pay all the costs of your MIAM and mediation sessions, so the mediation process would not cost you anything. Your Legal Aid would also pay for your ex’s MIAM and their first mediation session. They would therefore only have to pay for their second and each subsequent mediation session.
The new no-fault rules around divorce are intended to make the process simpler and cheaper for couples who are ending their marriage. There will usually be no expensive court hearings where you have to employ a solicitor to argue your case in court.
It costs £593 to apply for a divorce. This might be reduced, possibly down to nothing, if your income is low and you do not have many savings.
Mediation with Direct Mediation Services is often a very cost-effective way of agreeing practical matters with your ex-partner, costing only £130 per session. If you qualify for Legal Aid, mediation will not cost you anything. Even if you do not qualify for Legal Aid, but your ex-partner does, their Legal Aid will also pay for your MIAM and your first hour of mediation.
Talk to one of our friendly and experienced team on 0113 468 9593 to find out how we can help you.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is it free to apply for a divorce?
It is not free to apply for a divorce in England and Wales. The court fees to apply for a divorce are £593.
What if I can’t afford the costs?
If you do not have many savings and you have a low income, or if you receive Universal Credit or similar benefits, you might qualify to have the court fees reduced, even down to nothing. You can apply for this help online.
Does a solicitor have to present my case in court?
No, the divorce process has now been made much simpler. Most divorces will not need any court appearances at all, so you no longer have to ask a solicitor to argue your case in court. You might want to pay a solicitor to help you complete the application form or advise you about financial or child arrangements, but that is up to you. Mediation can be a much cheaper way of agreeing these things more amicably with your ex.
Will it cost more if my ex tries to drag out the process?
Under the new no-fault divorce arrangements, it is no longer possible for one spouse to object, or block, or delay the process. This previously often caused both parties huge expense with long-drawn-out court cases. Most divorces will now proceed without any court appearances and take around six months from initial application to the final divorce being granted.
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