Why do I have to pay my divorce solicitor when the marriage breakdown is all my spouse’s fault ?

Sarah was shocked to discover that her husband had been having an affair, with an entirely separate family with children, while he was away on business. She felt betrayed and angry – all the more so when her divorce lawyer explained that she would have to pay their costs for the divorce itself and the financial order.

This seemed totally unfair. But in April 2022 the law changed so that divorce was based on no fault – simply the wish for a divorce is enough. This was intended to reduce animosity, particularly in cases involving Litigants in Person, but it is quite understandable that this seems unfair to clients in many cases.

Penny Raby said ‘The result is often that the financial implications of the divorce include the injured party ending up paying the legal fees in divorce proceedings, with no way of claiming them back from their ex.’

And the emotional costs of divorce are not a factor in asset division or spousal maintenance payments- any unreasonable behaviour to be taken into account in a divorce finance case must be so serious that it would be unfair for the court to ignore it. And the bar is set high.

‘ The only occasion where I have experienced non-financial behaviour being taken into account was where a husband had tried to burn down his parents-in-law’s house, with them and his wife in it. Thankfully they escaped, but this was extreme behaviour the court decided must be taken into account.

But where there is a clear pattern of unreasonable financial behaviour (which could include financing a hidden family from joint funds) it becomes much easier to establish factors which should be taken into account.

‘So that is how we would approach the unfairness issue like the one Sarah experienced. The divorce petition fee of £593 would be best dealt with by using divorce negotiation strategies and if necessary legal representation in court to get the best financial agreement or court order taking into account the use of joint funds for the second family.’

This is just one example of how we can help get the best financial settlements for our clients. Contact us on 01386 555114 or at family@harmony-house.co.uk if we can help you.

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