By Family Law & Divorce Case Manager, Harry Low
When getting a divorce or civil partnership dissolution, a Court fee of £550 will need to be paid. This is payable by the person who submits the Divorce Petition (the Petitioner), but in some cases this fee may be recoverable from the other person. In this article, we explain when this applies and how to claim divorce costs from your ex.
What is the Court Fee for Divorce?
The Court fee is a fee that is payable directly to the Court when applying for a divorce or civil partnership dissolution. This fee is separate to any solicitor's fees or other costs, and will need to be paid regardless of whether or not you instruct a divorce solicitor.
It is a common misconception that the Petitioner can simply ask the other person (the Respondent) to pay back the Court fee, but this isn't necessarily true. In order to claim back the Court fee from the Respondent an application will need to be made to the Court, and the Court can refuse this application.
Making an Application to Claim Back Divorce Costs
If your spouse agrees to share the divorce costs, or if you want to claim back the Court fee from them in full, an application can be made to the Court for a Cost Order. A Cost Order can ensure that any pre-existing agreement is honoured and can make it harder for your spouse to withdraw from contributing towards the divorce costs.
To make a Cost Order, you must confirm in the Divorce Petition that you are making a claim for divorce costs. You must then reaffirm this in your application for Decree Nisi / Conditional Order. If you do not include the request for costs in the Divorce Petition, you will be unable to seek a Cost Order at a later time.
Once the Divorce Petition has been submitted to the Court, this will be processed and set on to your spouse, showing the reasons for the divorce as well as details of the claim for divorce costs. It's important to think carefully about including the claim for costs, because if your spouse doesn't agree with this they may become uncooperative with the divorce proceedings.
Your spouse will also be given the opportunity to defend any Cost Order made against them by the Courts. Both of these scenarios can cause delays and complications to your divorce application, and may also result in a short hearing at your local Family Court.
Are There Other Options to Cover Divorce Costs?
If you find yourself in financial difficulty, or unable to raise the funds to start divorce proceedings, there may be other options available to you. One of these options is Court Fee Remission, which allows people on a low income to seek a reduction on the Court fee. Information on Court Fee Remission can be found on Gov.uk, or you can speak to your Divorce Solicitor for more information.
If one person in the marriage earns significantly more than the other, the person with the lower income may struggle to afford their legal fees. In this instance, a Legal Services Order is another option to explore. This is when the Court orders the higher earner to contribute towards the legal fees of their spouse, so that they can have legal representation. Again, your Divorce Solicitor will be able to provide advice and guidance on this.