How Much Does A Divorce Cost?

How much does a divorce cost?

This page was last updated on 1 May 2021

How Much Does A Divorce Cost In 2021?

If you have spoken to anyone getting a divorce, probably one of the first things they will tell you is how much it costs.

This article will break down the various costs of getting separated.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

You can listen to an audio recording of this page below.

When can you get a divorce?

You can get a divorce if, first, you have been married for more than one year and second, your marriage is recognised by law in the United Kingdom. 

What might I be entitled to in divorce? 

The financial order is meant to be fair, so the starting point is that each spouse will get half of the assets, regardless of which spouse earns the most. However there are lots of factors the court will consider. 

How much is the average cost of divorce in the UK?

The average cost for a divorce is around £14,500 plus VAT. This takes into account the legal fees and the associate lifestyle costs. 

What can vary your divorce costs?

The answer to the question ‘how much does a divorce cost’ will be most affected by three main things:

  • If your divorce is contested or uncontested
  • The complexity of your estate and your family arrangements, like if you have children and who has child custody
  • Whether you do a DIY divorce, use an online divorce service or get professional legal advice. 

How much does a divorce solicitor cost?

This varies in each case, and whether your family law solicitor charges on a fixed fee or hourly rate. It will be cheaper if your divorce is uncontested and you do not have to go to court. 

Here is a useful video for you to watch too.

Why would I want a divorce solicitor?

It is a good idea to get legal advice from an expert in family law. They can help you explore your options without being clouded by the emotion of those involved in the divorce. 

Should I get a divorce lawyer?

Lots of factors can make your divorce from your husband, wife or civil partner more complicated, and more complex the divorce, the more likely you will need legal help. This includes:

  • Is there a financial imbalance between you and your former partner?
  • Have you financially dependent on your former partner?
  • Have you made career or earning sacrifices for your relationship or family?
  • Do you have children you have parental responsibility for who are financially dependent on you?

What should I expect a divorce solicitor to charge for their services?

It varies. Some solicitors in central London charge £500 per hour not including VAT. Outside London, you could pay anywhere between £150 and £350 per hour plus VAT. 

When will I pay an hourly rate?

An hourly rate is likely when the financial matters are not fully resolved and the solicitor is not sure how long the divorce process will take. 

What can impact the hourly rate?

The rate will be based on the solicitor level of experience and where the firm is located. As a rule of thumb, if property prices are high in the area, it is likely the solicitor fees will also be high. 

What is a fixed fee?

This is where the lawyer tells you the divorce cost before you begin. This is more likely for a straightforward divorce. 

What is included in the fixed legal fees?

This will vary between solicitors firms. However, it is likely to include:

  • The legal advice
  • Preparing the paperwork for the divorce petition
  • Communications between the parties and the lawyer
  • The application fee for the decree absolute/final order

It is worth noting that the fee for the petitioner and the respondent will be different, and the petitioner will probably pay more. If you are amicable you can agree between you to settle the difference. 

contested divorce

How do I choose my lawyer?

There are multiple considerations, including:

  • What are their fees, and are they fixed fee or do they use an hourly rate?
  • Where are they located?
  • What are the online reviews?
  • Did you try an initial free consultation?
  • What is their level of experience?
  • Does their expertise reflect what you need? This is relevant for cases with domestic violence or where assets are abroad. 

Will I need to pay for a barrister?

You may need a barrister if your case goes to court or you need to have a barrister involved in negotiation. The fees will vary based on their Chambers and their experience. 

How is a contested and an uncontested divorce different?

A contested divorce is when someone is defending the divorce proceedings. Uncontested is simply when neither party is opposing divorce. 99% of divorces are uncontested. If the divorce case is contested then the process will be more expensive, time-consuming and you will both have to go to court twice.

What should I expect an uncontested divorce to cost?

There are two parties in the divorce; the person who filed the divorce is called the petitioner and the other person is called the respondent. 

  • The petitioner will normally have to pay a solicitor between £450 and £950, and then will have to pay fees to the divorce centre of £550.
  • It is cheaper to be the respondent because you do not have to pay the divorce centre fee, and the solicitor fees will be lower, likely somewhere between £240 and £600. 

Can this cost be reduced?

You do not have to use a solicitor, and can use an online form. However, the £550 fee is always payable. However, you might be able to get financial help if you have a low income or are a recipient of benefits. 

Can I make my ex-spouse pay for my legal costs?

If your divorce is based on adultery or unreasonable behaviour, you can ask the court to make an order that your partner covers your legal costs for the divorce process. You should get advice from a divorce attorney before applying to the court for this. 

"The average cost for a divorce is around £14,500 plus VAT. This takes into account the legal fees and the associate lifestyle costs. "

What is the divorce fee?

You pay the court fee so that you can file your divorce petition, apply for decree nisi and get decree absolute. 

Who pays the divorce fee?

The petitioner pays the divorce fee when they send the divorce application off to the divorce centre. 

What happens if you think the wrong person paid the fee?

If you have already paid the fee but you do not think you should have done, you can put that down on the form so the court considers whether your partner should have paid instead. If the court thinks they should have done, then they will have to pay you back at the end of the divorce proceedings. 

How do I actually pay the fee?

You can pay by phone with debit or credit card, or you can write a cheque to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service.’

uncontested divorce

What does it cost to sort out a financial settlement?

This is where you agree on how you are going to divide up your finances and property. The cost will depend on the simplicity of the agreement.

What goes into a financial settlement?

The settlement will include how your property, assets and pensions will be divided up. Further, it will also set out how spousal support and child support will be coordinated. 

How much will a simple financial settlement cost?

A simple agreement where nothing is disputed and the assets are not too complex normally costs between £500 and £800 for the solicitor to draft the Financial Remedy Consent Order. The court charge is also £50.

How much will a complex financial settlement cost?

If your assets are complicated, the solicitor fees will end up around £1500. However, you might need to have divorce mediation to discuss your assets. Three sessions of mediation is normally £1200. The financial remedy consent order will also cost more, around £1500.

What happens if we cannot agree about our finances?

If you cannot agree about a settlement, you will have to go to court for an adjudication and court order. This is called a Financial Remedy Order, rather than being called a consent order.

court fee 4

What will it cost if you have to go to court?

The court costs will be £255, and then your solicitor’s fee will increase to between £10,000 and £15,000 for conducting court proceedings. However, this will go up if you still cannot agree. If you have to have a fully contested final hearing to get a financial order, then the fees will go up to between £25,000 and £30,000. 

What happens for a contested divorce?

This is often called a defended divorce. If you do not agree with why your spouse is asking for separation, you can put this in the divorce paperwork, and pay a fee of £245. 

What will a court consider when deciding if they should make a financial order?

The court will try to be fair by weighing up:

  • The ages of the parties and how long they were married for
  • The amount of assets each spouse has
  • How much each party contributed to the marriage or civil partnership, both financially and in terms of emotional labour
  • Earning capacities
  • The current standard of living and what is required to maintain this
  • Special requirements, like if one partner is disabled
divorce cost

What is mediation?

A mediator will help facilitate discussions between the parties, so they can reach an agreement amicably. 

Why should I go to mediation?

Mediating is a good idea because it is better for maintaining a functional relationship with your ex-spouse and it is quicker and cheaper than having to go to court. 

What is the aim of mediation?

The hope is that you come to an agreement which goes in a Memorandum of Understanding. Your solicitor can use this to write up a consent order.

What will the first mediation session cost?

The first session is called the MIAM- the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. Depending on where you get this done, this will cost £50 to £120. Going to a MIAM is required before attending court. 

How much does further mediation cost?

The cost of mediation can be anywhere in between £300 and £1500. This is not a lot compared to what the court process can end up costing. 

Can you get legal aid for mediation? 

You might be able to get legal aid if you are on a low income to cover the MIAM costs for both of you. Otherwise, legal aid only covers the later mediation sessions or solicitor fees for the person who is eligible for help. 

What is divorce arbitration?

Family arbitration is where a third party will gather all the evidence up and then make a decision. This is different to mediation where the decision is really from you; in arbitration the decision is taken out of your hands. 

How much does divorce arbitration costs?

Costs are on average £220 an hour, but can vary based on whom you choose. For a simpler case, some arbitrators will work on a fixed fee basis. 

What will a child arrangements order cost?

The order itself about where your child will live and when and for how long they see each parent costs £215. 

fixed fee divorce

What are child maintenance costs?

This the amount that you agree between you should be paid for the care of the children. 

Who determines child maintenance costs?

You can agree the maintenance between you. If not, the Child Maintenance Service can do it for you. They will weigh up:

  • The number of children 
  • Whether the party paying is paying maintenance for other children
  • The income levels of the parent paying maintenance
  • How much time the children spend with the parent paying out. 

When can I get legal aid?

You can get legal aid where:

  • You need it to pay for mediation
  • You are at risk of being made homeless, like if your former partner is going to throw you out
  • You have been domestically abused within the previous 5 years

How do you apply for legal aid?

You need to get a legal aid contract with your legal adviser or family mediator. They can apply on your behalf, or you can apply yourself.

When are you required to pay legal aid back?

You might have to pay back some of your legal aid back if you gain money or keep it at the end of divorce proceedings.This will either be a lump sum, or instalments of more than £25. 

What if I am not eligible to get legal aid?

You can get help in other ways, including:

  • Free or cheaply at a law centre from a solicitor or a caseworker
  • Free solicitor initial session
  • Free solicitor or barrister advice given pro bono

What is the most affordable way to get a divorce?

A collaborative divorce will be the cheapest route. This is where you and your ex-partner agree on the grounds for divorce together, then file the divorce papers at court. 

Am I able to get a divorce without a family lawyer?

You can fill out the divorce forms yourself on the gov.uk website. This only works if you have a relatively uncomplicated divorce, and you will still have to pay the £550 court fee.

How do I do my own divorce?

It is time consuming and will need lots of legal research to do your own divorce. When you complete the online form, this will file your petition. Then the rest of the petition is done through the post.

What is a DIY divorce?

This is simply where you fill out all the divorce paperwork yourself.

When should I get a DIY divorce?

This will only be an option if you and your former husband or wife are amicable so are able to agree on agreeing certain things together. You also will probably need more time to fill out the documents and do the relevant research. 

What is an online divorce service?

This is where you use a website to get your divorce. They will make you pay a fee, however this will be   attorney fees. Nonetheless, you will need to pay the court fee. 

What is DIY online divorce service?

This is where the web program will still give you guidance in the divorce petition, but you are still doing the work yourselves. 

What is a managed online divorce service?

This is where the website will do more of the work on your behalf. It is a compromise in that you are not fully alone but you will not have to pay for a legal service.

What does the average online divorce service cost?

You will still have to pay the court fee of £550, and then the service will be somewhere between £50 and £250, depending on how much help it provides. 

When can I use online divorce services?

Because this service is fixed fee, they will not take on clients whose divorce is going to be too complicated, it is contested, or there will have to be lots of negotiation. 

What happens if the divorce means we have to move house?

If the break up means one or both of you have to move house, Aviva suggests that the average spend on rent is £35,000. However, if either of you has to buy an new property all together, on average this will cost £144,600.

What if there are parts of proceedings outside the UK?

If there are considerations about whether the UK is the appropriate jurisdiction, or the proceedings have already been started somewhere else, the costs are likely to be higher, perhaps over £10,000. 

What else will I have to pay for?

It is a good idea to budget up to another £4000 for other costs, including:

  • If you need a barrister for a hearing or negotiations
  • If you need advice from an independent financial adviser about what to do with all your assets and properties
  • Fees paid to the bank and credit card companies for them to make copies of the statements
  • Fees to the valuer for the matrimonial home and any other high-value assets or properties
  • Fee to HMRC for copies of your tax documents
  • Fees to the manager of the pension fund to transfer funds
  • Fees to an actuary to calculate pension sharing figures

How can I manage the cost of my divorce?

You should think about how you can try to keep costs low. Ways to do this might include:

  • Using a lawyer who offers a fixed fee divorce. You also need to get clarity on what is part of the fixed fee, like the filing fee and any other legal cost.
  • You do not need to use the most senior lawyer for a straightforward case. However, you should still use a solicitor with expertise in family law.
  • Use meetings with your lawyer productively. You do not want the solicitor to waste time as you will be paying for their time.
  • Have all your financial information organised and ready to give to your solicitor. This means they can give you better advice and less time will be wasted. Doing whatever you can will mean your solicitor does not have to so you will not be charged for it. Similarly, it is not a good idea to use your solicitor for emotional support, as this could be found more cheaply elsewhere. 

How long does divorce take?

If your divorce process is straightforward, then normally it will be done in 4-6 months. There are lots of factors to this, like where you live and how you applied. 

Would you like some help finding out the costs for divorce?

Slater and Gordon’s experienced divorce lawyers have the empathy and the expertise you need.

Slater and Gordon are regarded as the UK’s leading divorce and family law solicitors.  They will be able to help you.

You can contact Slater & Gordon in one of 2 ways:

  • Option 1 – Call directly on 0333 567 1610 
  • Option 2 – Leave your contact details and Slater and Gordon get in touch with you

You can call directly between Monday and Friday 9am – 5pm on

Tel: 0333 567 1610 

You can arrange a call back from a divorce and family law specialist.

More information related to family law

Clean break order

A clean break can be a good idea in circumstances where both partners can successfully be financially independent of each other following the divorce. As the name implies, this means they are fully separate financially.

cohabitation agreement

A cohabitation agreement for unmarried partners is where couples who live together but are unmarried set up an arrangement to protect their rights.  This can cover all sorts of things, like what share of the property each party is entitled to, what happens if the relationship ends.

Consent order

Consent orders record what a divorcing couple have agreed to do about their finances. Having a formal agreement means that your former partner cannot make claims off you further down the line, long after your marriage has ended. 

pension sharing on divorce

Pensions and divorce are both tricky, complicated subjects. The end of a relationship is not a convenient time for technical discussions of your pension, and divorce proceedings make everything more complicated. Our article covers the key topics.

mesher order

A mesher order is issued by the court, and deals with what is done with the family home when a couple gets divorced. It means you can put off selling the house for either a set amount of time or until a trigger event happens.

Will writing services

Most people in England and Wales do not have a will in place. Wills are very important documents, as they allow you to set out how you want your property and assets to be distributed after you die. It is really important you update your WIll if you are going through a divorce.

Article author

Katy Davies

I am a keen reader and writer and have been helping to write and produce the legal content for the site since the launch.   I studied for a law degree at Manchester University and I use that theoretical experience, as well as my practical experience as a solicitor, to help produce legal content which I hope you find helpful.

Outside of work, I love the snow and am a keen snowboarder.  Most winters you will see me trying to get away for long weekends to the slopes in Switzerland or France.

Email – katy@helpandadvice.co.uk

LinkedIn – Connect with me

Frequently Asked Questions

When can you get a divorce?

You can get a divorce if, first, you have been married for more than one year and second, your marriage is recognised by law in the United Kingdom. 

What might I be entitled to in divorce? 

The financial order is meant to be fair, so the starting point is that each spouse will get half of the assets, regardless of which spouse earns the most. However there are lots of factors the court will consider. 

What should I expect a divorce solicitor to charge for their services?

It varies. Some solicitors in central London charge £500 per hour not including VAT. Outside London, you could pay anywhere between £150 and £350 per hour plus VAT. 

How is a contested and an uncontested divorce different?

A contested divorce is when someone is defending the divorce proceedings. Uncontested is simply when neither party is opposing divorce. 99% of divorces are uncontested. If the divorce case is contested then the process will be more expensive, time-consuming and you will both have to go to court twice.

Share this page

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on linkedin