34% increase in divorce fee!

Last year, the Ministry of Justice consulted on a round of court fee rises, including a proposed increase in the court fee to issue divorce proceedings from £410 to £550. A 34% increase! Despite strong opposition, this increase has now been confirmed.

Family lawyers only learnt that the fee increase would be implemented on Monday this week from an email received from the Law Gazette on Thursday 17th March – just a few days before the increase was due to come into effect.

Jo Edwards, chair of family law organisation Resolution, said: ‘The stealthy implementation of the hike in divorce fees, from £410 to £550 (after an increase only two years ago) is scandalous and not backed up by proper impact assessment.

‘As a result of the steep increase, many people currently in the process of separating will have received incorrect information as to the charge for lodging a divorce petition and, in reality, won’t have time to get their petition in before the fee increase takes effect.’

A spokesperson at the MoJ said: ‘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.’

Unfortunately, however exorbitant the fee, couples wanting a divorce (unlike other court users) will have no option but to pay it.

Sarah Orrell
Sarah is a family lawyer with a reputation for clear, straightforward advice. She specialises in divorce, financial settlements, separation and pre-nuptial agreements and cohabitation disputes. Sarah also heads up the Leonard Gray Emergency Services Legal Team.

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