Tags: Divorce, Family Law
Following on from the news that the government is proposing massive increases in the fees charges by the Court to grant probate, an announcement was made today that, effective Monday 21st March, the fees payable to the court to issue a divorce petition will rise 34% from £410 to £550.
Marjorie Taylor, FDC's head of Family Law, explains 'The court fee is not the cost that your solicitor charges for their work, it is the fee charged by the Court to issue the petition. That means that it is payable by anyone issuing a divorce, whether or not they use a solicitor. The actual cost to the court service of dealing with a divorce is around £270, so it is very hard to see how this increase, which follows a previous jump from £340 to £410 only 2 years ago'
In addition, the change has been made at very short notice, so that many people currently in the process of separating will have been given inaccurate information, and with so little notice having been given, most people will have no opportunity to issue their petition now, to avoid the extra charge.
Jo Edwards, who is chair of the Family Law organisation, Resolution, told reporters that government "should have waited until the House of Common’s justice select committee published their findings into their inquiry on court fees. Instead, the way in which this has been gone about, with no formal consultation or announcement, demonstrates a shocking lack of transparency from government. The manner in which they’re implementing this increase, by calling courts today and instructing them to charge more from Monday, is not how a responsible government department should act."
Unfortunately, unlike many other kinds of litigation, couples have no option but to pay the fees, as there is no other way to obtain a divorce. The court does have a limited fee-exemption scheme which allows those on some means tested benefits, or very low incomes, to issue a petition without paying a fee, or by paying a reduced fee, but the majority of working people, even those on low incomes, won't qualify.
The huge fee increase comes at a time when , following the imposition of regional divorce centres, courts' efficiency in dealing with divorces has slumped, with court users experiencing delays of 4 to 6 weeks for petitions to be issued or for other applications to be dealt with.
With such expenses rising, getting proper advice to avoid having to pay additional fees to amend or reissue a petition has never been more important. Contact Marjorie Taylor or Marion Fisher for further help in relation to a divorce, separation or other family issues. At FDC Law we offer a range of options including a fixed fee divorce and a 'Pay-as-you-go' scheme to fit all budgets, and to allow you to chose the level of support, advice and cost most suited to your needs.