How much does a divorce cost?

21 July 2015

If your marriage or civil partnership has broken down, divorce or dissolution may be the next step. How much you’ll have to pay in legal and court fees depends on several factors, including your circumstances and where you live in the UK. Our guide explains more about average costs.

Divorce in England and Wales

It will cost £410 to file for divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership in England and Wales. If you don’t want to end your marriage or civil partnership, perhaps for religious reasons, you can file for judicial separation instead. This will cost £365.

Having filed, you need to pay £50 for a consent order, which is a legal document binding you and your ex to the finalised financial arrangement.

If you can’t agree on how your assets should be divided, you’ll need to apply for a financial order so the courts can reach a binding decision. This will cost £255.

Did you know that your pension is classed as an asset and you may have to divide it with your ex if you divorce? Read more...

Divorce in Scotland

Court costs are lower in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK. If the circumstances of the divorce or dissolution are straightforward, for example you don’t have dependents and your financial separation is clear and agreed on, you pay £104.

The fee for more complicated cases is £136 in a sheriff court or £148 in the Court of Session, plus a £60 fee for the decree, which is called a minute.

Divorce in Northern Ireland

The court fee for a divorce of dissolution in Northern Ireland is £200. If the matter is contested by your ex-partner it must be heard in the High Court and will cost £300. If not, it can be heard in a county court for £250. As in England and Wales, you can apply for a judicial separation for £365. It costs a further £75 to finalise your divorce or civil partnership.

If your financial affairs are complicated, you can also apply for ancillary relief to help with splitting finances. This costs £300 in the High Court or £250 in a county court.

Solicitor’s costs

Where there are disputes, you may need a solicitor. Most legal firms provide a fixed-fee service, typically for uncontested financial settlements, which start at £250 plus VAT – excluding court costs. This arrangement doesn’t usually include tackling disputes over pensions and other complex issues.

The complicated nature of divorce sometimes means you may not be able to use a fixed-fee service. If so, you can expect to pay between £2,000 and £3,000 for a negotiated financial settlement, although costs in excess of £30,000 plus VAT are not unheard of in contentious cases.

There is no longer any legal aid funding available to pay for the cost of using a solicitor unless you have been a recent victim of domestic violence.

Find out how to protect your financial assets when you divorce...

Online services

It’s worth seeing whether you could save money by using an online service, which can cost up to £400 if managed by a solicitor or between £40 and £200 if not. Be sure to check what you’re getting for your money, though, as services vary.

Collaborative lawyers

Collaborative family solicitors work with both parties, with the intention of resolving differences through mediation rather than using the courts. Their fees vary between around £8,000 and £15,000.

Mediation services

Mediators try to help couples resolve their disputes in an amicable manner, and so keep costs down. You can expect to pay from £100 an hour.

You can still get legal aid funding to pay for mediation if you’re eligible for it. Although you won’t get legal advice, you can get information about the law to help you both reach a settlement. A mediated agreement isn’t legally binding but you can get it turned into a legal agreement by applying to the court.

Even if you are thinking of using a solicitor, it’s generally considered a good idea to try mediation first. If you can’t afford a solicitor this may be your best way to reach a settlement if you can get your ex to attend the sessions.

All information accurate at time of publication

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

Money Advice Service

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.