Family Law Blog

Who pays for the cost of a divorce?

24 January 2017, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

The Petitioner (the person who issues the divorce petition) irrespective of who was responsible for the breakdown of the marriage, can ask that an order for costs be made against the Respondent.

When receiving a draft/ sealed petition, the Respondent is often surprised that a costs claim is being made against them. Costs claims are very common. These costs will include; the cost of the preparation of the divorce petition, application for decree nisi and application for decree absolute, together with the court fees of £550.

There are various different costs claims that the Petitioner can make and these are as follows:-

  1. A full costs claim (i.e. asking the court to require your spouse to pay all of your costs);
  2. No claim for costs (i.e. accepting that you will pay for all your costs yourself);
  3. No claim costs for provided your spouse does not defend the petition; or
  4. Restricting the claim for costs to a specific figure – this figure could be only the court fee of £550 or half of the total costs of divorce – you are able to choose.

Costs orders are normally made where the grounds for divorce are unreasonable behaviour or adultery.

We normally advise our clients to seek a costs order so that we can negotiate with the other side once the proceedings have been issued. On the other hand if the Petitioner is anxious for the divorce to proceed unopposed, the claim for costs is only sought if the proceedings are undefended. This often encourages the Respondent to return the acknowledgement of service more quickly.

It is important to be aware that the claim for costs is only in relation to divorce proceedings and not financial matters. Each party will be expected to cover their own costs relating to financial issues, disclosure and settlement.

If you would like to find out more information about the issues raised above, please contact Susan Taylor. 0161 883 0460 or email