Paying divorce costs

If you’re divorcing or dissolving your civil partnership, you’ll want to know how much it’s likely to cost. Some costs, such as court fees, are fixed. Others, such as legal fees, will depend on how much legal advice you take and what the solicitor charges. You may be able to get help with the costs.

 

How much are court fees?

If you’re getting divorced or dissolving your civil partnership, you or your ex-partner (husband, wife or civil partner) will have to pay court fees. You have to pay them whether you sort out the divorce or dissolution yourself or use a solicitor to help you.

Court fees vary depending on where in the UK you divorce or dissolve your civil partnership. The main ones are listed below, but you may have to pay others.

Court fees in England and Wales 
 
 

Court fee to file for your divorce or dissolution

£550

Court fee to file for judicial separation (used if you don’t want to end your marriage or civil partnership, perhaps for religious reasons)

£365  

Application for a financial order (an application for the courts to decide how your finances should be divided, when you haven’t reached agreement)

£255

Application for a consent order  (a legal document that records and makes legally binding the financial arrangements you’ve agreed between you)

£100

Court fees in Scotland

In Scotland, there are two ways to get a divorce:

  • The simplified procedure, also known as a DIY divorce
  • The ordinary procedure

The fees you pay will depend on which procedure you are using. These include: 

Court fees in Scotland   
Fee for the 'minute for decree' (the legal term for the document finalising the divorce)  £49
Application for an 'ordinary' divorce or dissolution where the 'simplified' procedure cannot be use £156 in a Sherriff Court
or
£173 in the Court of Session
Application for a ‘simplified’ divorce or dissolution. You may be able to use this procedure if you don’t have children under the age of 16 and you and your ex-partner aren’t claiming a lump sum or ongoing payments from each other

£113 In a Sheriff Court

or 

£131 in the Court of Session

Court fees in Northern Ireland 
 
 

Court fee to file for your divorce or dissolution

£249

Applying for a court hearing (if your divorce or dissolution is contested, only the High Court can deal with it)

£373 in High Court

£311 in county  court 

Court fee to file for judicial separation (used if you don’t want to end your marriage or civil partnership, perhaps for religious reasons)

£200

Filing for a decree absolute or final order (this says that your divorce or dissolution is finalised)

£93

Application for ancillary relief (this is for ongoing payments or a share in the property or possessions you own)

£373 in High Court

£296 in county court

Help with paying court fees

You may be able to get help with paying court fees if you are on certain benefits or if you have savings and income below a certain amount.

In Northern Ireland, you have to fill in a form called ER1 (PDF 89KB) for help with court fees.

In Scotland, you can find information about help with court fees on the Scottish Courts website.

How much are legal and professional fees?

Most solicitors offer a fixed-fee divorce or dissolution service, but can also charge by the hour. The amount you will have to pay will depend on how much work the solicitor has to do for you. You can cap fees or cap the work you want your solicitor to do. Try to agree in advance how much email or telephone contact you would like.

Legal services  Typical costs 
 

 Solicitor (charging hourly rate) - for a negotiated financial settlement, up to £30,000 plus VAT or more for one that goes all the way to a contested final court hearing.

Costs will depend on whether you are trying to decide on care and support for your children, sort out your finances, or both. It will also depend on how much you and your ex-partner can agree between you and how complicated your circumstances are.

Between £2,000-£3,000

Solicitor (charging fixed fee) - for drawing up a consent order after an uncontested financial settlement. This will not include negotiating how complex assets (such as a pension) should be divided or extra work if you and your ex-partner can’t agree a settlement.

Start at £250 + VAT with court fees on top.

Collaborative family lawyer - costs can be hard to estimate, but could be in the region of

£8,000 to £15,000

Online divorce or dissolution service - you should check whether the service on offer is just for the divorce or dissolution paperwork or for the financial settlement as well.

 

Up to £400 if managed by a solicitor

Between £40 and £200 if solicitor isn't involved        

Mediator - Most couples have between three and four sessions. Most separating couples take legal advice alongside mediation.

From £100 an hour

Help through legal aid in England or Wales

You can no longer get legal aid to pay your solicitor’s costs unless there is evidence of domestic violence or where child abduction is involved. However, you may still be able to get legal aid to help pay mediation costs. Check if you are eligible for legal aid on the GOV.UK website.

Help through legal aid in Northern Ireland and Scotland

Legal aid may be available to pay towards the legal costs of divorce or dissolution. You will be assessed on the basis of how much income and savings, investments and valuables you have (not including your main home).

In Northern Ireland, solicitors are responsible for calculating whether you qualify for legal aid.

You can check if you are eligible for legal aid in Scotland on the Scottish Legal Aid Board website.

The Money Advice Service’s Divorce and separation calculator can also help you manage the costs.

Last reviewed: 10/04/2019

This content has been provided by the Money Advice Service