How much does a divorce cost?

A student taking care of their finances at university and building their credit score

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how much a divorce will cost – it depends on several factors, such as:

  • Whether the divorce is uncontested (these cases are more likely to be amicable, and the costs can be lower)
  • If you decide to process the divorce yourself (this is also likely to be an uncontested divorce, and you may not need a solicitor for the whole process)
  • Whether the divorce is contested (for example, one party disagrees over financial settlements, property, or custody of children – these tend to be more expensive)

How much does an uncontested divorce cost?

If you and your ex-partner can agree on the outcome of the divorce – for example, how much you’re both entitled to and how you’ll split any properties – you can take care of the proceedings by yourself, and divorce fairly cheaply. This is commonly known as a ‘DIY divorce’.

However, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice with a specialist family lawyer during the process, to ensure you’re completing the paperwork correctly, that you’re both aware of your rights, and that the agreement you’ve decided upon is legally binding.

If you are seeking the divorce (the petitioner), you can expect to pay:

  • £450 - £950 in solicitor’s fees, depending on how much guidance you need as you draw up your paperwork
  • £550 for filing your petition – this is the cost of processing your divorce application

Even if you’re handling your own divorce, you’ll still have to pay the court fees to ensure the dissolution of your marriage is legal.

If you are the other party (the respondent), it can be cheaper.

  • Usually, you won’t have to pay the £550 cost of applying for a divorce – the petitioner is normally obliged to take care of this
  • Your solicitor’s fees should be lower; you can expect to pay around £240 to £600

Assuming that you and your partner can agree on your individual settlements, the cheapest way to finalise an uncontested divorce could be online – the average cost of an online divorce is £739. However, these costs do not include financial orders or arrangements involving children – this is just a legal process to dissolve your marriage.

If I don’t seek legal advice during my divorce, will it affect how much money I’m entitled to?

Yes, potentially. You should seek legal help at least once during the divorce process – even if you and your partner are in full agreement. This is to make sure that your finances are split fairly, and an impartial third party can ensure you’re both getting a fair deal.

If my partner and I can’t agree, can mediation help us avoid going to court?

If you and your partner can’t agree on finances, splitting your property or the custody of any children, you can look into mediation to help you and your partner reach a decision you’re both happy with.

Mediation is often known colloquially as MIAM – that’s a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.

It’s a much easier – and cheaper – way of finalising a divorce, and it means that you won’t have to go to court. You can also avoid a set of costly solicitors’ fees.

Mediators are skilled in hearing both sides of the story, and working out a mutually-beneficial arrangement which will suit you and your ex-partner. Some settlements can be sorted in one session, others may take several sessions to resolve. The cost of mediation can range from £300 to £1,500 – but it’s just a fraction of what you’d pay if you took your case to court.

Mediators help you ‘untangle’ your financial life from your ex-partner’s, and after your assets have been fairly split, you’ll stop being a financial associate – and your ex-partner will stop being yours. This can help improve your credit score – especially if your ex-partner wasn’t financially responsible.

If you close all joint accounts and you no longer have a joint financial agreement with your ex-partner, you can get your previous financial link with them removed from your credit report. To make sure your information’s updated, contact any credit reference agencies you’ve registered with and let them know.

How much does a contested divorce cost?

No matter how hard you and your ex-partner try to agree, sometimes there’s a breakdown in communication – and the final step is to take the case to court to finalise a divorce.

There’s no one set figure – how much your divorce costs will depend on how much money you’ve both put into property, savings, pensions, and childcare costs throughout the marriage.

Solicitors’ fees vary, but you could be paying in excess of £30,000 for their fees alone.

In addition to these fees, you’ll need to budget around £3,000 to £4,000 for the following costs. Please remember that depending on your circumstances, other costs may apply, such as actuary fees and pension fund manager fees:

  • The court’s fees
  • Valuer’s fees for your home, and any other properties which may need to be valued
  • Bank fees for providing copies of statements
  • HMRC fees for providing copies of tax documents
  • Independent financial adviser fees
  • Barrister fees if you need to be represented during your hearing

Can I get legal aid for a divorce?

No - legal aid for divorce cases in England and Wales was withdrawn in April 2013, and you can’t claim legal aid unless you are a victim of domestic violence.

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