The response by Resolution to the government’s plan to increase court fees again for divorce cases in July 2016 highlights the effect of this ‘divorce tax’ on those people in society who are already experiencing perhaps one of the most fraught times in their lives.
The reason behind the increase is questionable – this is the second increase in divorce court fees in less than 2 years, the fees having been increased from £340 to £410 less than 2 years ago and the increase now planned is from £410 to £550, an increase of 60% in the last 2 years. It is even more questionable in the light of changes to the divorce system to make the process more administrative, and in fact the ‘administrative cost’ of divorce to the courts has been assessed at £270, therefore suggesting to some that the excess money taken in divorce court fees is to be used on ‘propping up’ other areas of the court system affected by cut backs.
This increase, dubbed a so called ‘divorce tax’ will obviously effect those who find themselves in the unenviable position of often having to proceed at this expense as a matter of necessity, if it is the case that the marriage or civil partnership has simply broken down. Unlike certain areas of litigation, the emotive issue makes the timing of the proceedings critical for some involved in a relationship that they cannot continue and the fee is one further problem to overcome.
However, in many cases it is worth looking a little deeper as certain exemptions apply for those on low incomes or State benefits and given the increase it is all the more important if you are potentially affected by the increase to contact experts who will be able to advise you if you are eligible for exemption from the court fee.
Ellis Hass & Co Solicitors are specialist divorce lawyers; call us now on 0800 197 3560 or visit our offices in Solihull if you need some advice on the changes.