Divorce Cost Order: Legal Costs in Divorce Proceedings 


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Can you Make a Claim for Costs Against your Spouse?

The divorce process can be expensive, and the issue of costs of divorce often result in a legal costs dispute. These costs usually include Court fees, expert fees, and Solicitor fees. The person applying for the divorce will usually be the party responsible for paying the Court fee.

In some circumstances however, one spouse may agree to pay the costs of the other. In other circumstances, the family Court may grant a divorce Costs Order, allowing one spouse to make a claim for legal costs against the other. This will usually be the case if one spouse is the successful petitioner in a “fault decree” divorce. This situation usually arises based on the unreasonable behaviour of a spouse, desertion, and adultery.

A divorce Cost Order would rarely be made based on two years’ separation by consent, unless agreed between the parties. It is common for costs to be split equally between the spouses in this situation. On the basis of five years’ separation without consent, an order for costs would not usually be made.


Recovering Costs of Divorce

A claim for costs of divorce must be made at the Decree Nisi stage and should be included within the divorce petition. Upon granting of the Decree Absolute, legal costs will be payable at this stage if an application is successful.

If granted, the divorce costs order may state the phrase “costs to be assessed if not agreed.” In these circumstances, the process of detailed assessment will be used to decide the level of costs owed to you.

In order to recover your legal costs, you must serve a bill of costs upon the paying party alongside a Notice of Commencement. The bill of costs should detail all of the costs you wish to recover, such as the Court fee, solicitors fees, expert fees and any additional costs incurred by you as a result of the divorce proceedings.

The paying party will then have 21 days to respond to the bill of costs by sending their points of dispute if they do not agree to all costs within the bill. If they do not provide their points of dispute within 21 days, you will need to apply for a default costs certificate which will entitle you to recover all costs listed within the bill.


What Should you do if your Spouse Makes a Claim for Costs?

If a costs order is made against you, it will be your responsibility to pay all or part of your spouse’s legal fees.

If your spouse is required to negotiate legal costs using the process of detailed assessment, you will be required to serve your Points of Dispute upon the receiving party within 21 days of the date of service to contest any of the amounts claimed within the bill. Your Points of Dispute should be formal legal arguments against the amounts claimed, to help reduce your costs liability.

Costs may be further negotiated by the receiving party using points of reply. If costs cannot be agreed between parties at this stage, a Detailed Assessment Hearing will be required.


How can ARC Costs Assist with a Divorce Cost Order?

ARC Costs can assist in all legal costs matters, including costs in family law and divorce proceedings, irrespective of whether you are a paying party or a receiving party. If a divorce cost order is made, you should seek the assistance of a costs specialist immediately.

We are highly experienced Costs Draftsmen/Costs Lawyers and have been successful in recovering substantial amounts in legal fees for our clients. We can assist in the whole of the detailed assessment process, from drafting your Bill of Costs and Points of Reply to conducting negotiations with the other side before advising on whether the claim should proceed to a Detailed Assessment Hearing, for which one of our in-house Costs Lawyers can provide representation and expert legal advice.

We can be contacted via or contact form at the top of the page, email at info@arccosts.co.uk, or by telephone on 01204 397302. For more information on legal costs, please find out more about our speciality areas of expertise and our services on our legal costs page.

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