When you get divorced or dissolve your civil partnership, there will be costs to pay. State help is very rarely available for divorce proceedings and the most you may be able to receive is assistance with Court fees. It is therefore highly likely that you will have to pay your own costs for the divorce.
For the divorce process itself, because the procedure is standard, most solicitors will offer to deal with the divorce on a fixed fee. This may not apply to issues relating to the children or finances, although at the Law House, we offer fixed fees wherever possible. If you are paying the costs on a fixed fee basis and as the divorce process takes an average of 4 months to complete, the costs can be spread over the 4 month period if you are not able to pay them immediately.
If you are relaying on unreasonable behaviour or adultery as the reason for the breakdown of your marriage, you may want your spouse to pay your legal fees. In most cases, the issue of costs would be dealt with before the divorce petition is drafted. A letter is usually sent to your spouse or his lawyer, asking him or her to confirm that they will pay the fees. Sometimes your spouse will agree to cover all your fees for the divorce and at other times, they may offer to pay 50%. It is always sensible to try and agree the cost contribution before you issue divorce proceedings.
If your spouse does not agree to pay the costs, you can claim a costs Order against them in the divorce petition. The Judge will then consider the issue of costs at a specified stage of the divorce process and decide whether or not your spouse should pay the costs. Both of you would be able to “set out your stall” before the Judge makes the final decision.
Costs orders are very rarely made if the divorce petition is based on something other than unreasonable behaviour or adultery. At The Law House, we always recommend to clients that they should be prepared to pay their own costs and if we can obtain a cost contribution form their spouse, that is a bonus.