How much does divorce or dissolution cost?

Some costs, such as court fees, are fixed. Others, such as legal fees, will depend on how much legal advice you get and what the solicitor charges. You might be able to get help with the cost of getting a divorce or dissolution.

How much are court fees?

If you’re getting divorced or dissolving your civil partnership, you or your ex-partner (husband, wife or civil partner) will have to pay court fees.

You have to pay them whether you sort out the divorce or dissolution yourself or use a solicitor to help you.

Court fees vary depending on where in the UK you divorce or dissolve your civil partnership. We’ve listed the main ones below, but you might be other fees you’ll need to pay.

Court fees in England and Wales

  • If you want a divorce or dissolution, the cost of the application to the court is £550. Find out more about filing for divorce on GOV.UK
  • If you want to legally separate but don’t want to end your marriage or civil partnership – for example, for religious reasons – you can apply for a judicial separation for £365. Find out more about getting a legal separation on GOV.UK
  • if you can agree how to divide your assets, you can make the agreement legally binding by applying for a consent order. This costs £50. Find out more about getting a consent order on GOV.UK
  • if you and your ex-partner can’t agree how to divide your finances, you can ask a court to decide how assets will be split- the. This application for a financial order costs £255. Find out more about getting a court to decide on GOV.UK

(2020 GOV.UK figures)

Court fees in Scotland

In Scotland, there are two ways to get a divorce:

  • the simplified procedure (also known as a do-it-yourself divorce)
  • the ordinary procedure.

The fees you pay will depend on which one you choose. Here are the amounts you’ll need to pay to get a divorce or dissolution in Scotland.

  • To finalise your divorce or dissolution, the fee for the ‘minute for decree’ is £51. This is the legal term for the document finalising the divorce or dissolution.
  • To apply for an ‘ordinary’ divorce or dissolution where the ‘simplified’ procedure can’t be used – the fee is £159 in a sheriff court or £173 in the Court of Session.
  • To apply for a ‘simplified’ divorce or dissolution – the cost is £128 (Sheriff Court) or £134 (Court of Session). You might be able to use this if you don’t have children under the age of 16 and you and your ex-partner aren’t claiming a lump sum or ongoing payments from each other.

(2020 Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service figures)

Court fees in Northern Ireland

  • If you want a divorce or dissolution, the cost of the application to the court is £249.
  • To finalise your divorce or dissolution, the fee filing for a decree absolute or final is £93. This states that your divorce or dissolution is finalised.
  • To apply for a court hearing, the cost is £373 in the High Court or £311 in a County Court. If your divorce or dissolution is contested, only the High Court can deal with it.
  • If you want to apply for ongoing payments or a share in the property or possessions you own, this application for ancillary relief is £373 in the High Court and £296 in a County Court.

Help with paying court fees

In England and Wales

You might be able to get help with paying court fees if you’re on certain benefits or if you have savings and income below a certain amount.

In Scotland

There’s information about help with court fees on the Scottish Courts website 

In Northern Ireland

You’ll need to fill in an ER1 form for help with court fees. Download the form on the Department of Justice website

Most solicitors offer a fixed-fee divorce or dissolution service – but they can also charge by the hour.

The amount you’ll have to pay will depend on how much work the solicitor has to do for you.

You can cap fees or  the work you want your solicitor to do. Try to agree in advance how much email or telephone contact you’d like.

Solicitor (charging hourly rate): Total costs range from £2,000 to £3,000 for a negotiated financial settlement. And £30,000 (plus VAT) or more for a financial application that goes all the way to a contested final court hearing. Costs will depend on whether you’re trying to decide on care and support for your children, or to sort out your finances, or both. It’ll also depend on how much you and your ex-partner can agree between you and how complicated your circumstances are.

Solicitor (charging fixed fee): Total costs for drawing up a consent order after an uncontested financial settlement could start at £250 (plus VAT). There will be court fees on top of this, depending on what you agree with your solicitor. This won’t include negotiating how complex assets – for example, a pension – should be divided, or extra work if you and your ex-partner can’t agree a settlement.

Collaborative family lawyer: Costs can be hard to estimate but could range from £8,000 to £15,000.

Online divorce or dissolution service: Total costs of up to £400 if a solicitor manages your divorce or dissolution. And between £40 and £200 if a solicitor isn’t involved in the process, plus you’ll need to pay court fees. You’ll need to check whether the service will cover just the divorce or dissolution paperwork or the financial settlement as well.

Mediator: Mediators usually charge from £100 an hour. And most couples have between three and four sessions.

If you want to take your case to court, it’s usually a legal requirement to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment meeting (MIAM). The other person involved is also expected to attend a MIAM, but they don’t have to go to the same meeting as you.

Find out more about MIAM:

If you go to a solicitor first, they’re likely to talk to you about whether it would help to use mediation first.

You can no longer get legal aid to pay your solicitor’s costs unless there’s evidence of:

  • domestic abuse (including financial abuse)
  • violence, or
  • child abduction.

But you might still be able to get legal aid to help pay mediation costs.

You might be able to get legal aid to pay towards the legal costs of divorce or dissolution.

You’ll be assessed on how much income, savings, investments and valuables you have (not including your main home).

You might also be able to get legal aid if you receive certain benefits.

Northern Ireland

Scotland

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Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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