March 18, 2016

Ministers criticised over divorce fees

It was first confirmed last year that the fees would rise from £410 to £550 – an increase of more than a third.

At the time, family lawyers had criticised the proposals, arguing that the hikes weren’t in proportion to the cost of the legal procedure.

News that the changes will take effect next week has led to further criticism that the reforms are being rushed in.

Increasing the fees is expected to have a disproportionate effect on women, who currently initiate two thirds of divorce proceedings in the UK.

Jo Edwards, chair of family law association Resolution, is among those to have condemned the move.

“Divorce is…a necessary part of the legal process to bring a relationship to an end,” she said.

“Whether people mediate, negotiate their own outcome or go to court, they have to pay the divorce petition fee.

“The actual cost of the administrative process has been shown to be £270, meaning that at new rates the MoJ is making a profit of more than 100 per cent – in effect, levying a divorce tax.”

Sir James Munby, the Judge who leads the family court, has also raised concerns, pointing out that marriage fees are only £100 by comparison.

“People will see that it doesn’t cost six or eight times as much to get divorced as it does to get married,” he said.

A MoJ spokesman conceded the increases were likely to prove unpopular, but argued they were necessary to help fund the court and tribunal service.

To find out more about the family services we provide, please contact Patrick Hart from our family law team today.

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