The 5 most frequently asked questions about Divorce

1. How much will it cost?

The cost of lodging a Divorce Petition at Court is £550. The Petitioner must pay this Court fee but can ask that the Respondent makes a contribution towards the costs. A Cost Order will be made at a later stage by the Court, but the amount the Respondent is to contribute is usually agreed between the parties in advance.On top of the Court fee, there are solicitor’s fees. Solicitors charge an hourly rate to their clients and will provide an estimate of costs at the outset of the divorce. This will detail how you will be charged, and at what rate. Depending on the solicitor’s hourly rate, a divorce will cost on average between £650-£850 (plus VAT and the Court fee). The Petitioner can ask the Respondent to assist in paying these fees.

2. How long will it take?

The divorce process itself usually takes between 4-6 months, but this is dependent upon the parties and the Court. The Petitioner has control over the speed of the divorce, but if the Respondent fails to cooperate, this can delay matters. 

3. Does my spouse have to agree to the divorce?

In order to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, the Petitioner must rely on one of five facts – only one of which requires the consent of the Respondent (two years’ separation with consent). The other four facts (adultery, behaviour, desertion and 5 years’ separation) do not require consent; however, the facts of adultery and desertion do require evidence in support

4. Will I have to go to Court?

In most cases, attendance at Court will not be necessary. The divorce process is carried out on paper providing that there is no dispute as to who will be responsible for bearing the cost of the divorce.In the event that there is a dispute, the Court will set down a short hearing at which the Respondent will be required to make representations as to why they should not have to pay or contribute in some way to the divorce costs incurred by the Petitioner. In the case of a fault-based petition (adultery or behaviour), the Court are most likely to award some, if not all, costs to the Petitioner.

5. If I am the Respondent to a “behaviour” petition, will that impact my financial settlement?

It’s difficult not to get “hung up” on a behaviour Petition, and some parties end up spending a lot of money arguing about what should or should not be included. In most cases, however, behaviour will have no bearing on the financial outcome of the case.

In rare circumstances, the Petitioner may be able to argue that the behaviour of the Respondent should be considered when determining financial matters; however the conduct, whether personal misconduct or financial misconduct, must be so bad that it would be inequitable to disregard it. Personal misconduct might include attacking the other party with a weapon, whereas financial misconduct might be excessive gambling, unjustified spending, or where one party has tried to “hide” assets from the other, to avoid a financial claim.

Both parties should be aware, however, that in most circumstances, the conduct cited in a behaviour petition will have absolutely no bearing on the financial outcome of the case.

If you would like to discuss any of the above issues in more detail then please feel free to contact us on 01245 504904 to book an appointment.

Devon is a Chartered Legal Executive in the Family Team at Leonard Gray. She has over 6 years’ experience in family law and has risen through the ranks, studying and working contemporaneously to achieve FCILEx status.