Q: Sadly my husband and I have separated and I now desperately want a divorce, but am holding off because one of the many issues I face is that I am unable to cover the cost of the divorce myself. I have been told that the court fee and solicitor fees could be in the region of a few thousand pounds, so given my financial situation I feel this is not an option. What can I do?
A: Getting a divorce can become expensive but such cases are more likely to be where there is dispute in relation to the finances of the family, and not just a simple divorce. The procedure to obtain a divorce is completely separate to the finances, and if all goes well it is a relatively cheap process.
The fee the government charges for a divorce is currently set at £550. This will need to be paid before a divorce can commence, unless you are exempt from paying this fee. You could be exempt from paying the fee if you are in receipt of benefits such as income support, income based jobseeker’s allowance or income-related employment and support allowance. You may also be able to apply for a partial exemption or have the fee reduced if you are on a low income and are able to prove that your earnings are below a specified amount.
It is also possible that if you are unable to waive the petition fee you may be able to claim your costs from the other party. The Court can order that the costs should be paid if you request this. Your husband may then come to a compromise and agree to pay towards half of the cost of the divorce. Many law firms are able to offer a fixed fee for a divorce.