The Ministry of Justice have proposed an increase in the fee to issue divorce proceedings. To submit your divorce petition to the Court today will set you back £410, however this figure is set to rise in the following months.
The initial proposal was an increase of the court fee to £750, which faced much objection. Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, stated that “This proposal attracted the highest level of criticism among respondents to the consultation,” and therefore this figure was abandoned. This was some-what repeated in part two of the government's response to the consultation, in which they said that 'respondents to the consultation were particularly concerned about raising the fee for a divorce. We have listened to those concerns and we have decided not to pursue this measure for the time being.' However, went on to add that 'this has not changed the financial imperative to increase the income to the courts from fees... Increasing court fees will never be popular or welcome. But I am sure that those who choose to litigate in our courts will continue to recognise the outstanding qualities our legal services offer and the excellent value for money they provide.'
The proposed increase now stands at £550, which is a rise of 34%. However, this figure remains subject to the Ministry of Justice's consultation until around the middle of September. It is predicted that if the change does go through, then the increase in fees could be brought in very soon after, and is likely to be implemented before the end of this year. This proposal follows shortly after a previous rise in July 2013, in which the Court fee for issuing a divorce increased from £340 to £410.
Recent years have seen drastic cuts in Legal Aid, meaning that many have been left unable to obtain justice. It has to be questioned whether this, along with the predicted increase in fees, will mean that a vast proportion of society will not be able to afford a divorce. As a result, solicitors may see an increase in the number of Divorce Petitions asking for a contribution towards their costs from their spouse, in order to make the fees more affordable. It may also prompt those considering a divorce to act soon in order to avoid the rise in costs.
If you are concerned about the rise in costs, and want to start divorce proceedings sooner to avoid this change, please arrange a free initial consultation with our family law solicitor at Endeavour Law by filling in the enquiry form on our website.