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Costs orders in divorce and financial matters

View profile for Sarah Lightfoot-Webber
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Costs orders in divorce and financial matters

After the divorce process changed earlier in the year, cost orders are now granted less frequently.

In her latest article, Sarah Lightfoot-Webber looks at how a costs order can be obtained under the new law and what to include in the application.

How much does divorce cost?

The cost of a divorce will depend on whether you have a solicitor instructed and what that solicitors particular fee is.

However, one charge that is applicable whether you have a solicitor acting for you or not, is the Court Fee. This is £652, at the time of this article, and is payable when the application for divorce is submitted with the Court.

Read more on the costs involved in divorce here.

Depending on your financial situation, you might be able to get some support with paying court fees. You can find more information on this here.

Who pays for divorce costs?

The party instructing the solicitor will be response for the divorce costs of their solicitor.

The applicant in a divorce is responsible for paying the Court Fee when the divorce application is submitted with the Court.

Couples can apply for divorce together through a joint application. Read more about joint applications here.

Can you split the cost of a divorce?

It is up to the Sole Applicant, or Applicant 1 in the case of a joint application, to pay the Court Fee.

The party who has instructed a solicitor will be responsible for payment of their solicitors’ fees.

However, the parties can of course agree between them that the costs are to be split.

What is a costs order in divorce?

A Costs Order is where the Respondent has been ordered by the Court to pay some or all of the Applicant’s costs in relation to the divorce proceedings. 

With the implementation of No-Fault Divorce, costs orders are now much more difficult to obtain and very rare.

Can I claim costs in divorce?

Before the law changed to no fault divorce on 6 April 2022, it was fairly common to see an applicant being granted a costs order against the respondent in divorce proceedings due to the element of ‘fault’ being involved.

Under the new no fault divorce scheme, the costs element has been removed from the divorce application.

It is very unlikely that the Courts will order the respondent to pay an applicant’s costs as the matter is based on there being ‘no fault’ in the eyes of the law as to the breakdown of the marriage.

What needs to be included in a costs order application?

If a party is seeking costs, then a separate application must be made in relation to this. The application must set out the following:

  • The grounds on which the order is being sought.
  • A summary of the costs being sought.

There is no guarantee to an outcome and whether a costs order would be granted, and the party seeking the costs would increase their costs in the making of a costs order application.

How does a costs order work?

Previously, in the former divorce petition, there was a question to answer regarding costs and whether these were being claimed.

If you wanted to claim you ticked the box and set out what you were seeking. When the Decree Nisi was granted, it would be at this stage that the Court would award a costs order if they felt it was appropriate for one to be made.

This has now been removed from the new divorce application and a separate application must be filed with the court setting out what is being sought.

What happens if a costs order is not paid?

If a costs order is not paid, it will be down to the party whose favour it is in to raise this with the other party.

If it continues to be unpaid, then you can seek to get the costs order enforced against the other party by the court.

How do you enforce a costs order?

Enforcing a costs order involves making an application to court to ask them to enforce the order against the paying party.

How long do I have to pay a costs order?

A costs order in relation to divorce becomes payable once the Final Order (formerly Decree Absolute) is granted.

More on No-Fault Divorce

After the divorce process changed in April 2022, we put together a series of articles which aim to break down the new process in a bit more detail.

You can read these by clicking the links below:

Divorce & cost order applications

At Frettens, our team of bright experts would be happy to assist you in applying for a cost order or divorce.

If you’d like to have a conversation with a member of our team, you can get in touch by calling 01202 499255 or filling out the form at the top of this page.

We offer a free initial chat for all new clients.

The content of this article, blog or video is not intended as specific legal advice. For tailored assistance, please contact a member of our team.

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