Q&As

Where the petitioner sought 50% of their costs in relation to the divorce suit in the petition, can they increase their claim to 100% of their costs on applying for the decree nisi?

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Produced in partnership with Paul Infield of The 36 Group
Published on LexisPSL on 16/07/2020

The following Family Q&A produced in partnership with Paul Infield of The 36 Group provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Where the petitioner sought 50% of their costs in relation to the divorce suit in the petition, can they increase their claim to 100% of their costs on applying for the decree nisi?

Whether or not a party should pay costs, and if so when and how much, is at the discretion of the judge. In principle, costs are awarded on the basis of CPR 44 (as modified by Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010), SI 2010/2955, Pt 28) and section 51(1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981.

In the case of undefended petitions, the district judge will determine, when granting a certificate that a party is entitled to a decree nisi or decree of judicial separation in matrimonial proceedings or a conditional order or a separation order in civil partnership proceedings, whether the court’s intention is to make a costs order. The starting point is a 'clean sheet'. In practice, most courts appear to order costs against the respondent when one is sought, where the ground relied upon in the matrimonial proceedings is one of those traditionally described as a 'fault' one, ie adultery, unreasonable behaviour and desertion.

In cases based on two years’ separation and the consent of the respondent, half the costs of the suit may be claimed (Hymns v Hymns). As a condition of giving their consent, the respondent may properly require the petitioner to pay all the costs (Beales v Beales). Where the ground is five years' separation, an order for costs should not normally be sought or made (Chapman

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