Rainscourt Family Law Solicitors

Who Pays the Legal Fees in a Divorce?

There are five facts you can use to obtain a divorce in England & Wales. The question of who pays for the costs of the divorce will normally be determined by the fact which is proven in the divorce. The five facts are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, 2 years separation (with consent) and 5 years separation.


The spouse starting the divorce process (known as the “petitioner”) will have to pay the court fee, currently £550. They may be able to get money off the court fee if they have little savings and have a low income or are on certain benefits. Read more here.

If the spouse receiving the divorce petition (the “respondent”) does not agree to the divorce, they will also need to pay a court fee. It is very rare for a divorce to be defended in this way.

In most cases, the costs will be split between the divorcing couple as follows:

  • where adultery is the fact proven, the respondent will pay for 100% of the costs of the divorce (including the court fee).
  • For unreasonable behaviour, the couple will split the costs 50/50
  • For separation or desertion, the petitioner will pay 100% of the costs.

Financial Claims

Normally each party pays for their own costs in a financial claim.

The general rule in financial proceedings is that the court will not make an order requiring one party to pay the costs of another party. However, a court can order that one spouse pays some of the legal fees of the other if their conduct warrants a costs order. Read our blog about a husband who was ordered to pay his wife’s costs of £1.5m.

The Court may make a Legal Services Order in order to place a divorcing couple on an equal footing financially to meet legal fees. The court will look at the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each party has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future. Read our blog about a husband who was ordered to secure a loan of £150,000 in favour of his wife in order to pay her legal fees.

Other Funding Options

If it is not possible to secure a contribution towards a client’s legal fees, other funding options are often available. Where spouses do not earn a significant income personally and do not have access to family assets, there are a number of ways to fund legal fees. Read more here.

Who Pays the Legal Fees in a Divorce?

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