recovering divorce costs from respondent

Within the divorce petition, the Petitioner (the person who submitted the petition) has an opportunity to make a claim for costs against their spouse. This means that you can recover some or all of your legal costs from your spouse.

When receiving a draft/ sealed petition, the Respondent can often be surprised that a costs claim is being made against them. However in our experience, costs claims are very common because the Petitioner’s costs tend to be considerably higher than the Respondent’s.

The Petitioner’s costs include the cost of the preparation of the divorce petition, application for decree nisi and application for decree absolute. They are also responsible for the Court fee which is currently £550. In comparison, the Respondent only has one form to complete- the acknowledgement of service.

Costs of a divorce – claims a Petitioner can make

There are various different costs claims that the Petitioner can make and these are as follows:-

  1. A full costs claim (i.e. asking the court to require your spouse to pay all of your costs);
  2. No claim for costs (i.e. accepting that you will pay for all your costs yourself);
  3. No claim costs for provided your spouse does not defend the petition; or
  4. Restricting the claim for costs to a specific figure – this figure could be only the court fee of £550 or half of the total costs of divorce – you are able to choose.

What option for sharing the costs of a divorce should I take?

Which option you go for will depend on your circumstances. Often we will advise our clients to make a full costs claim with an intention to come to an agreement with their spouse in subsequent correspondence as to how much they are willing to contribute.

If you are keen for matters to proceed quickly, however, you may decide to go for options 2 or 3 on the grounds that it will encourage your spouse not to defend the petition and return the acknowledgment of service more quickly.

It is important to be aware that the claim for costs is only in relation to divorce proceedings and not financial matters. Each party will be expected to cover their own costs relating to financial issues, disclosure and settlement.