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Court fees vs. Legal Aid Question

  • TimA
  • TimA's Avatar Posted by
  • Senior Member
  • Senior Member
23 Oct 11 #294166 by TimA
Topic started by TimA
Hi again all,

My stbx receives Legal Aid for her costs towards the divorce. She won't have to pay a penny in solicitors or mediation fees. Whereas I have to pay all my costs.

I am reliably informed that if mediation should fail we are both looking in the region of £5,000 - £6,000 in costs if it goes to a final hearing.

I assume 'final hearing' means lots more haggling and lack of agreement from both sides as is the case atm as 5 mediation sessions have still failed to bring an agreement.

As I am in full time work I take it as read that I will have to pay all my court costs. But what I am interested in is the court costs of the stbx as she is on Legal Aid.

Does anyone know if her court costs will assume part of the Legal Aid account and they will be effectively 'free' to her? Or is it more complex than that?

I have it in writing that the stbx (the petitioner) will not persue me for costs through the court so I assume this means she cannot make me may her costs?

Thanks in advance.

  • .Charles
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  • Platinum Member
  • Platinum Member
24 Oct 11 #294184 by .Charles
Reply from .Charles
Where public funding is provided to a person who uses that funding to obtain a financial settlement, their legal fees will be repayable from that financial settlement. This will include costs incurred in relation to divorce and mediation. The Legal Services Commission places a Charge on the assisted person's financial assets using what is know as the 'Statutory Charge'.

As fare as claiming costs from another party, in divorce proceedings it is possible for the Petitioner to claim their costs from the respondent. However, this is limited to the divorce only - that is the process of ending the marriage. Where there are other issues(mediation, finances, children etc), each party bears their own costs so it is incumbent upon each party to settle matters as the matrimonial pot diminishes.

There are exceptions in relation to claiming costs. If there are injunction proceedings (financial or involving violence/harassment) it would be possible for the applicant to seek costs from the respondent.

If you are paying privately I would be very surprised if you could get to final hearing for £5-6k. The usual path of financial proceedings is to go to the First Directions Appointment, deal with disclosure, go to the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing where negotiations take place with the assistance of the judge and if that fails, evidence has to be gathered together and a barrister is usually instructed to attend the final hearing which is usually listed for a whole day. The barrister would typically charge £2k + VAT or more.

The final hearing seeks to examine the facts as they appear before the court so there is no haggling - a judge will decided what order to make. This can go your way or it can go against you but in reality both sides lose as the costs incurred in going to final hearing are usually more that the amount that the parties are arguing over.

On a private paying basis I would expect your costs to be around £20k and the costs of a publicly funded party to be £8k or more. The starting point is that the costs come out of the matrimonial pot therefore both sides suffer a loss the more the matter is litigated.


  • TimA
  • TimA's Avatar Posted by
  • Senior Member
  • Senior Member
24 Oct 11 #294328 by TimA
Reply from TimA
Thank you .Charles, very informative.

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