Do I have to pay court fees for my divorce?
The UK divorce rate has hovered around 40-50% for several years now, and all of us know couples who separated, often to the benefit of their relationship with each other as well as their children. Despite how commonplace it is, there’s still a huge amount of misinformation around the process and at Quickie Divorce we try to de-mystify as much of this as possible. It’s an important moment in your life and for your family, and the way we see it - the more straight-forward we can make things for you the less stressed out you’ll be. That’s why we offer free and confidential advice six days a week over the phone from our team of case managers as part of even our cheapest package. Today we’re looking at the court costs associated with divorce. We’re going to outline exactly what they are, why they need to be paid and what you can do if they’re not an affordable option for you at this time. Hopefully by the end you’ll have a better idea of how the whole process works.
How much do they cost?
If you’re divorcing in England and Wales, the courts require a fee for the processing of your petition. The ‘court cost’ will be paid to your local court and will cover the administrative cost of them processing your divorce from start to finish for you. It does not mean the cost of it being heard and fought in court, as some people believe, so even if your divorce is uncontested it will still need to be paid. The fee is currently set at £550 and is often the main obstacle for couples seeking to officially separate since the price has been steadily on the rise. The cost will be paid up front by the petitioner, this is the person who instigates the divorce and files the petition, but you will have an opportunity later on in the process to claim for the divorce fees from the respondent – more on that later
The £550 fee is the only fee you have to pay to be officially ‘divorced’ but we recommend paying the extra £50 court fee to gain a Consent Order too. A consent order is a formal statement saying that the financial agreement you and your ex-spouse made is final and bound by law – without one, they can take you to court at a later date if you come into more money to ask for a bigger settlement. Our Personal Plus Service comes with a consent order as standard to secure your future finances and keep them where they belong, in your bank account.
What if I can’t pay?
If you are on a low-income or if you’re unemployed, you can apply to the government for a remission in the cost of your fee. You will often end up paying a much-reduced amount, or no fee at all, so don’t worry if you can’t get £550 together.
If your divorce is fault-based and you are filing because of adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour you can ask in court for your spouse to pay your costs. In cases where your spouse does not agree to the divorce, there will be a special hearing after the decree nisi is pronounced to look specifically at the costs of the divorce. Here, you can argue that they should pay the costs and you should not, usually because you aren’t able to pay because they are too high. The judge will assess how much they should pay after a thorough examination of your finances and can even order it to be spread over instalments if appropriate. They can look at court costs as well as any and all other fees associated with the divorce, like solicitor’s fees, and will assess how ‘reasonable’ they are. The judge has guidelines as to what a reasonable fee is, depending on the area you live in and the locality of the court.
Thought for many it can be the right choice to pursue their ex-spouse for their legal fees, it can cause issues between you and they might actually even withdraw their consent at the decree nisi stage, making it more difficult for the process to be completed. If you want the divorce to go through as quickly and easily as possible, and you can afford the fees without too much trouble, its recommended that you don’t pursue them formally for the court fee. Informally, if you can come to an arrangement with them before attending court where you split the costs 50/50 then things will progress smoothly and fairly.
Court costs are actually a simple element of the divorce process, and luckily all of our packages come with free advice on any financial aspect as a consequence of divorce. We can instruct you on how to apply for the government court cost remission and provide you with your professionally drafted consent order or ‘Clean Break Order’. Remember - Clean Break Agreements are the only way to guarantee that financial deals you and your ex-spouse reach are enforceable by law. Clean Break Orders ensure that your ex-partner cannot go back to court to ask for more money or assets post-divorce. Clean Break Agreements help tie up financial matters such as maintenance and division of property, savings, shares, policies, and pensions. They can even settle child maintenance provided the terms are agreed by both parties and the court.
Still confused about divorce? Request a call back today for free, impartial advice from our expert team.