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Divorce - Court Fee Increase from Monday 21st March 2016

View profile for Hannah Rogers
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An increase to the Court fee payable to file for a divorce has long been on the horizon. It has now been confirmed that the fee will increase by a whopping 34% rising from £410.00 to £550.00 on Monday 21st March 2016.

A strict criteria of eligibility for Legal Aid in divorce was introduced in April 2013. This resulted in a vast majority of individuals who would have been previously eligible having to finance the cost of filing for divorce out of their own pockets. It would seem that the burden for financing divorce is increasingly being placed into the hands of the individuals.

The highly debated increase:

The increase which is to be implemented on 21st March 2016 sees a rise of £140.00 from the previous figure of £410.00. This substantial increase is not exclusive to the issuing of divorce petitions, and includes issuing applications to dissolve civil partnerships. 

The controversial increase has been highly debated by professionals in the family field. The new fee of £550.00 in contrast to the initially proposed increased fee of £750.00 shows efforts taken to oppose such an increase. The successes in defeating the imposition of a £750.00 fee are short lived however, as the new £550.00 still represents an increase that is not in line with inflation.

Why the increase?

The procedure of applying for divorce is already a costly, time- consuming and stressful experience for many. Where in reality, the average estimated cost of divorce proceedings is £270.00, it is hard to justify such an increase. However, it is proposed that the additional funds would be used to improve Court efficiency and in turn could have a positive impact on the length of divorce proceedings. 

How will the increase impact you?

Many arguments in opposition have suggested that the increase will deny access to justice and fairness. It is unfair to impose the increased fee on individuals who have no alternative options, other than to not get a divorce. It was suggested in a survey of professionals conducted by the Law Society that the increase in fees will prevent many people from bringing legitimate claims. Although in todays society many people choose not to get married, the new fee will impact many marriages ending in divorce by reducing the joint marital assets.

Do any exemptions apply?

In only very limited circumstances may individuals obtain a fee remission or reduced Court fee. To discuss whether you would apply for an exemption please contact the family team who would be happy to help.

Although consequences of the increase are yet to be seen, it is evident that the increase will have an unwelcomed impact on the finances of individuals commencing divorce proceedings. 

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.