In truth, the expense of a divorce depends on how complicated the situation is, and how amicable you and your spouse can be moving forward. Agreeing on as many things as possible before the proceedings start will allow you to keep extra costs low.
How much does it cost to serve divorce papers?
If you’re serving divorce papers to your spouse, it will cost you £550 to start the divorce proceedings. This pays for the court’s time in assessing the grounds for your divorce. If you are on benefits or a low income, you may be able to get support in paying these fees. There is also the opportunity to request on the divorce papers that your spouse pays for some of the costs of this application.
You will need to include a copy of your marriage certificate. If you do not have one, a copy can be procured from the General Register Office for £9.25.
Cost of a simple divorce
Costs are much more straightforward if you and your spouse agree in advance, and all they have to do is sign and post back the divorce papers. You can send these papers on with an application for a Decree Nisi. This is a statement from the courts that they see no reason you can’t get divorced. If your case is undefended (you both agree to the divorce) then you simply wait to hear from the courts, who will send a date for you to expect your Decree Nisi. If your spouse does not agree, they will have to pay £50 for a ‘case management hearing’ with a judge.
Upon receiving your Decree Nisi, you will have to wait 6 weeks and 1 day before applying for your Decree Absolute. You simply fill out the form confirming you want the Decree Nisi to become permanent, and include the confirmation of the Decree Nisi. This will be the final stage in your divorce and will confirm the dissolution of your marriage.
Cost of a contested divorce
The costs of filing for divorce start to add up if extra paperwork needs to be done.
For example, if your spouse does not agree to the divorce and wants to file against the reasons for divorce, that will cost them £245 (which they can ask to be split with you, as above).
If you and your spouse cannot agree about the division of money or assets or custody arrangements for children, you may need to pay further fees. For a financial order, you will need to pay £225. Your divorce papers will not be processed until the financial order is completed.
A financial order can only be attained if you have shown you have been to mediation first to organise and agree on matters like childcare, custody and financial matters (this does not apply in certain cases, such as those of domestic abuse). You can find a local mediator, and these will have hourly rates. Financial assistance can be sometimes offered for this.
If your divorce is simple and straightforward, with both parties agreeing, you should simply be able to pay £550 to start the proceedings, and split the cost between you. Extra costs, like case management hearings, financial orders and anything else where the court’s time is required, can add up if your spouse is not on the same page. With more complicated cases, especially if there is disagreement over money, or there are children involved, it may make more sense to hire a solicitor to make the process easier and provide support during a difficult time.