Divorce and legal costs

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Advice on the legal costs associated with divorce.

Help with legal costs

It's worth using a solicitor to get advice on what counts as sufficient grounds for divorce and any evidence you'll need.  If you can't agree on what to do about children, property or money, it's always best to ask a solicitor. 

If your split's amicable (an undefended divorce), you don't need a solicitor .

If one of you doesn't agree to the divorce, it's best to contact a solicitor.  When the case is heard, you'll usually need a barrister as well.  Legal fees can be high if the dispute takes a long time – it's worth trying to reach an agreement before going to court.

Legal Help

With an undefended divorce, you may be entitled to free help from a solicitor or legal adviser through the Legal Help scheme.  Legal Help can include help with:

  • preparing the case for court;
  • general advice on legal problems;
  • writing letters, negotiation and getting a barrister's opinion;
  • family law, for example financial support after marriage or disputes about children;
  • undefended divorce or dissolving a civil partnership; and
  • buying or selling your home if it's the result of a marriage or civil partnership ending.

Please note that Legal Help won't pay for the costs of starting or taking a court case, or for a lawyer to represent you at a tribunal.

You don't need to use your partner's income for calculations.  To qualify, you must:

  • get income support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or the guarantee part of Pension Credit; or
  • earn less than £2,657 per month before tax and national insurance (this goes up by a set amount per child if you have more than four children).  Your monthly income after tax, national insurance and any child support have been taken off (disposable income) must be less than £733; or    
  • meet the income criteria above and have savings, money in the bank, valuable items or your own home ('disposable capital') worth less than £8000.  Please get advice if you own a home as calculations are also dependent on the value of your mortgage.

If you qualify for Legal Help, you need to see a solicitor or adviser who can provide this.

Legal Representation

If your partner disagrees with the divorce, you may get help with legal costs via the Legal Representation scheme.  This helps with:

  • all the costs of taking civil cases to court; and
  • representation by a solicitor or barrister. 

You can get Legal Representation if:

  • you receive any of the benefits listed under 'Legal Help'; or
  • your disposable income is below £733.  However, if it is more than £315, you'll have to pay a monthly contribution as long as you're getting Legal Representation. This amount varies depending on your income; or
  • you meet the income criteria above and your disposable capital is less than £8000. If your disposable capital is between £3000 and £8000 you'll have to pay any capital you have over £3000 straight away.
Published: 27 July 2012 - 3:03pm