July 24, 2015

Why the hike in divorce fees is unjustifiable

By Peter Jones, founder

Middle England is taking yet another blow on the chin following the announcement that the cost of getting divorced is undergoing an astronomical 34% hike, from £410 to £550k, in a drive to boost the economy.

Divorce – with all the consequent expense, trauma and stress – constitutes a major life crisis without the Ministry of Justice further exacerbating the situation for those who need to file a divorce petition for a civil court hearing in England and Wales.

Even a hike of a single penny is unjustifiable, although it appears the Ministry thinks we should be thankful for small mercies after first mooting plans in 2013 to increase divorce fees from £410 to £750 – an increase of over 80%.

Its decision to limit the increase to 34% after ‘careful consideration’ will not lessen the impact for those people who work hard to make a modest living in roles spanning shop assistants, receptionists, bus drivers and electricians who will be forced to dig even deeper into their pockets when the increase bites later this year.

Although the extremely vulnerable who are on benefits or earning a low wage with little or no capital may either be exempt or pay a reduced amount – the very rich will not be affected.

It is inconceivable that businesses in wide ranging sectors including professional services would dare to contemplate, let alone announce, an increase in fees to this astronomical percentage. Indeed there would justifiably be a public outcry if petrol went up from £1.16 to £1.60 a litre.

The rise is part of series of measures to raise an extra £60m a year, which include increases for areas spanning issuing possession claims in the county court, general applications in civil proceedings and contested applications in civil proceedings.

To further add insult to injury, the Ministry is threatening us with another tranche of proposed fee increments on which it is consulting across the next two months that would generate a further £48m in revenue.

Any other body or organisation deigning to railroad through these hikes through would deservedly bring down the wrath of the government on them. The irony that the Ministry of Justice is instigating these changes will not be lost on those who find themselves paying more from the very justice system they seek support from.

If you have any questions or comments about divorce related matters, please call us on 0113 246 0055, leave us a comment below, drop us an e-mail or contact us on @helpwithdivorce.