The price of getting a divorce is being hiked up by a third as the government announces plans to raise court fees. Married couples seeking a divorce will now be expected to pay £550 – an increase of £140.
Not that divorcing couples are the only court users to be hit: general applications in civil proceedings are seeing a 50% increase from £50 to £100, while the court fees for immigration and asylum cases will also double.
The new pricing measures were outlined in a letter from courts minister Shailesh Vara to Chairman of the Justice Select Committee Robert Neill.
The motivation behind the hike is the somewhat alarming fact that the HM Courts and Tribunals Service operates at a deficit of £1 billion. It’s hoped the rise in fees will help plug that deficit, though it is, in fact, a lesser divorce cost increase than was originally proposed.
Divorcing couples should think themselves lucky that they do not have to face the 80% rise to £750 that was previously mooted before being booted out by ministers after carefully considering all the issues.
Mr Vara has stated that he is confident the rising cost of divorce will generate around £48-60million to help slash the deficit.
The government has insisted that the most vulnerable applicants, such as domestic violence victims or those from low income households, would be protected from the price rise. It is not yet totally clear on the parameters for this will be, though Mr Vara has claimed that the remission scheme for poorer claimants would be more generous.
In his letter to Mr Neill, Mr Vara stated:
We recognise that fee increases are not popular but they are necessary if we are to deliver our promises to fix the economy. At every stage we have sought to protect the most vulnerable by ensuring they will not have to pay new and higher fees and by making the remissions scheme more generous.
The cost increase may also help keep courts alive as it was announced only last week that some 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales were at risk of closure.