/ Divorce / Who pays?

Who pays for the divorce?

The person requesting the divorce (the “Petitioner”) usually pays to start divorce proceedings in Northern Ireland. 

During the divorce negotiations, you can decide how the costs should be shared, if at all. 

In many cases, divorcing spouses agree to split the cost of divorce between them.


This guide outlines general topics you should be thinking about if you want to get a divorce in Northern Ireland. But it is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should contact a specialist divorce solicitor for advice on your specific circumstances.

Who pays for the divorce?

There is no simple rule that decides who pays for a divorce.

It depends on various factors, some of which include things like:

For non-fault based divorces – e.g. 2 years separation with consent – it is not unusual for spouses to split the fees (we’ll talk about fault-based/non-fault based divorce grounds later).

If your ground for divorce is fault-based (e.g. your partner has committed adultery), you are more likely to be awarded costs. But for this to be successful, you will need to be able to prove that the adultery took place (which isn’t always straightforward).

Sometimes a spouse who has received a divorce petition will make a tactical move – they will agree to consent to the divorce, but only if the petitioner pays for it.

If an agreement can’t be reached with your former spouse about who is going to pay, it’s possible to ask the court to rule on costs (but you have no guarantees about what the court will decide).

Whether you are the person who is applying for the divorce, or you are the person who is on the receiving end of one, you should always be mindful of how much the divorce is going to cost you.

It’s not unheard of for people to go through a whole divorce thinking that the other person is paying for everything – only to get a shock when a large bill comes through the letterbox!

And by the time this happens, it’s usually too late to do anything about it.

So be sure to nail down the issue of divorce costs early on.

Always find out how much things are going to cost, and crucially, who’s paying.

The above article is part of our guide on how to get a divorce in Northern Ireland.

If you are thinking about getting a divorce, you should get in touch with a Northern Ireland specialist divorce solicitor who will be able to provide advice tailored to your own personal circumstances.

If you have any questions, you are very welcome to get in touch.

All the best,

The Team @ Lightlaw
Every effort is made to keep this guide up to date. Although it is not to be regarded as legal advice, we strive to make sure the information is helpful, accurate and practical. If you are a Northern Ireland divorce solicitor and have spotted an inaccuracy, you can submit a suggested change.
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