From today (21 March 2016) divorce fees rise from £410 to £550, seeing the fee increase by 34%. A cost that will have to be paid regardless of your individual circumstances when it comes to divorce or what method, or law firm you may choose. This fee will still have to be paid in order to begin the legal process of brining your marriage to an end.
The MoJ have made the decision to raise the fee for divorce in order to pay for the overall cost of administering justice. However the significant increase in cost has provoked anger within the family law community, with many claiming that the amount is far higher than the actual cost of the legal procedure.
The MoJ who deny that the increase has been rushed in, say that the additional income will provide a boost to funding for the justice system which is facing further cuts following the most recent Budget.
Many people within the legal industry now have concerns over the steep increase and the result it may have on individuals who are looking to proceed with a divorce. With the increase in cost for lodging a divorce petition, many people may now reconsider divorce due to the increase in cost. Which could lead to people becoming trapped in unhappy and even violent marriages. With women making up two thirds of those initiating divorce proceedings, they are likely to be most affected by the steep increase.
This latest move in relation to family law from the MoJ has also brought fresh talks surrounding equal access to justice. With questions over whether individuals wishing to lodge a divorce petition will be able to go ahead.
There has also been further doubt from critics as to whether the increase in cost can be justified. With many saying the actual cost is £270 and the MoJ are making a 100% profit. In comparison, it costs around £100 to register a marriage, as Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court in England and Wales, commented: “People will see that it doesn’t cost six or eight times as much to get divorced as it does to get married.”
A spokesperson from the MoJ commented:
“Fees are never popular, but they are necessary if we are to reduce the burden of the courts and tribunals on the taxpayer. We have sought to protect the vulnerable at every stage.
“That is why we have a remission scheme to protect and help those who cannot afford to pay. These fee increases have not been brought forward; they are being introduced on schedule.”
If you are considering divorce and concerned about the recent increase in the cost of lodging a divorce, speak to one of our family law solicitors. We always aim to provide you with a first class and bespoke service when it comes divorce and relationships issues.