How Much Does a Divorce Cost if It Goes to Court UK

Couple discussing divorce

Divorce is a significant and often challenging life event, not just emotionally but also financially. Understanding the costs involved in the divorce process in the UK is essential for anyone considering this step. While some divorces can be settled amicably and at a lower cost, others that go to court can be substantially more expensive.

This post will discuss the various costs involved in a divorce in the UK and how much it might cost if it goes to court. Let’s get started.

Average Cost of Divorce in the UK

The cost of divorce in the UK can vary widely depending on multiple factors, including whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.

Generally, an uncontested divorce, where both parties agree on the terms, is considerably cheaper and can be settled more quickly. The average cost of an uncontested divorce typically ranges from £500 to £2000, primarily covering the divorce application fee and solicitor fees for basic advice and document handling.

If a divorce is contested, the expenses can increase significantly. For a contested divorce, where parties cannot agree and require court intervention to settle disputes over assets, finances, or child custody, legal fees can start from around £3,000 and go as high as £25,000 or more, depending on the complexity and length of court proceedings.

This does include additional costs such as court fees, which currently stand at £593 for filing a divorce petition, and other miscellaneous expenses related to the process.

It’s important to note that the given figures are just a rough estimate. Each divorce is unique, and the cost can greatly vary in individual cases. 

Related Resource: Mediation vs. Litigation: Pros and Cons by Legal Experts

Breakdown of the Cost Involved in a Divorce

Here is a detailed breakdown of the typical costs you may encounter during the divorce process in the UK:

Court Fees

The divorce process begins with paying a court fee (£593, as of now), which is mandatory for processing the divorce petition. This fee is uniform in all divorce cases in the UK but does not cover additional proceedings like disputes over financial settlements or child custody, which may incur further costs. 

These additional costs arise from separate applications for financial orders or child arrangement orders, each requiring its fees and potentially increasing the financial burden of the divorce process.

Solicitor Fees

Legal representation is essential in divorce cases, and solicitors’ fees vary widely. Most family law solicitors offer a choice between fixed fees for uncomplicated divorces and hourly rates for more complex cases. The fixed fee arrangement is straightforward and covers the entire uncontested divorce process, making it a more predictable and often affordable option. 

However, lawyers may demand an hourly rate for divorces requiring extensive legal intervention, which can accumulate quickly, especially if the divorce involves prolonged negotiations or court hearings.

To explore your options, reach out to UK Divorce Solicitors and see what they offer.

Financial Advice and Valuation Costs

Professional financial advice and asset valuation are critical in divorces where significant assets need to be divided. These services ensure that all assets, including properties, investments, and pensions, are accurately valued and equitably distributed between parties.

Costs for financial advisers and valuers can vary based on the complexity of the financial portfolio and the level of expertise required. This is particularly relevant in high-net-worth divorces, where the asset distribution is complex and potentially contentious.

Mediation Costs

For couples looking to avoid the courtroom, mediation offers a cost-effective alternative to settle disputes. Mediators charge either a flat fee or an hourly rate, and the total cost depends on the number of sessions needed to achieve an agreement.

Mediation reduces legal fees and often leads to quicker settlements, saving money and emotional strain over time.

Additional Legal Costs

Divorces often involve more than just the initial application and settlement. Costs can increase due to the need for interim orders, such as those for temporary financial support or child custody arrangements, and for enforcing existing orders if one party fails to comply.

Additionally, if an appeal is necessary, this can further increase the legal costs significantly, involving more detailed legal work and potentially higher court fees.

How Much Is the Cost of a Divorce if It Goes to Court in the UK

When divorce disputes extend into the courtroom, the costs can quickly escalate beyond the initial estimates. A court application to resolve financial issues or custody disputes may be necessary if mediation and informal negotiations fail.

The progression and cost of these proceedings heavily depend on the case’s complexity and the legal strategies employed.

Typically, most court-handled divorces see a resolution early, which helps keep costs between £5,000 and £10,000. However, if an agreement remains unreachable, the process leads to a final contested hearing where the costs can significantly increase due to the involvement of barristers, solicitors, and potentially other expert witnesses needed to support the case.

Legal costs accumulate through these stages in the process, not just from direct legal representation but also from necessary third-party services, such as property valuation or financial experts, which are vital for confirming claims during the proceedings.

How Much Does a Divorce Solicitor Charge?

The fees charged by divorce solicitors in the UK vary widely based on the complexity of the divorce, the solicitor’s experience, and the specific services required. Generally, solicitors may offer services at a fixed fee for straightforward, uncontested divorces.

These fixed fees typically range from £500 to £1,500 or slightly more and cover all the basic legal proceedings without extensive negotiations or court appearances.

Solicitors usually charge an hourly rate for contested divorces involving complex disputes over finances, property, or child custody. These rates vary significantly but generally range from around £150 to £400 per hour.

The total cost can escalate quickly depending on the time required to resolve the issues, the necessity for detailed legal submissions, and the number of court appearances needed.

Clients should be aware that additional costs may be incurred for communications, document handling, and potentially court representation by barristers, which the solicitor will coordinate but will add to the overall legal expenses.

Related: Things to Consider Before Choosing the Right Divorce Lawyers

Who Pays the Fees in a Divorce?

In the UK, the financial responsibility for divorce proceedings primarily falls on the petitioner who initiates the divorce. This includes covering the initial court fees and their solicitor fees incurred. 

However, the petitioner can request a cost order within their divorce application, which, if granted, would require the respondent (the other party) to pay all or part of the petitioner’s legal costs.

The decision to issue such a cost order is entirely at the court’s discretion and heavily depends on the respondent’s objections and the case’s specific circumstances. For example, if the court finds the respondent’s actions have unnecessarily raised costs or stretched the process, it may be more inclined to award a cost order against them.

In more amicable separations, it’s not uncommon for both parties to agree to share the court fees equally to lessen the individual burden. Additionally, there are provisions for those with financial hardships.

Individuals with low incomes, dependents, or recipients of certain benefits like Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit can apply for a fee remission to reduce or completely waive the court fees. 

Let Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors Help

Dealing with the complexities of a divorce can be daunting, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors are here to offer expert guidance and support throughout your divorce proceedings. Our team of skilled divorce solicitors specialises in addressing all aspects of divorce law, from uncontested divorces to complicated contested cases.

We offer tailored legal advice and robust representation in court and aim to secure the best possible outcome for you. Whether negotiating financial settlements or resolving custody disputes, our solicitors are committed to making the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Contact us today to discuss how we can assist you in managing your divorce with confidence and care.


An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties concur that they want to dissolve the marriage and agree on all the major aspects of the separation. Conversely, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement on all the issues related to their marriage, they must proceed with a contested divorce.

The cost of a divorce in the UK can vary depending on various factors, such as legal fees, court costs, and the case’s complexity. On average, a contested divorce that goes to court can cost several thousands of pounds.

A financial settlement in a divorce refers to the consensus reached between the spouses about the division of assets, property, and finances during the divorce process.

Yes, online divorces are legally recognised in the UK and are regulated by the government. These divorces are processed through the court system and require judicial approval. They provide similar legal protection as traditional divorces but enable couples to manage the process more directly and reduce expenses.

It is recommended to seek legal advice before initiating a divorce to understand your rights, obligations, and the potential costs involved in the process.

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At Gulbenkian Andonian, we pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience and Efficiency”. With over 35 years of experience on your side, our team of London based lawyers and solicitors have a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and businesses of all sizes to find clarity on UK law.

Call us on +44 (0) 207 269 9590 or fill out the form below. We usually reply within a few hours.

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