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MPs urged to reject ‘divorce tax’

Family law organisation Resolution has urged MPs to reject plans for a steep rise in family court fees.

The measure would amount to a ‘divorce tax’ said chair Jo Edwards because couples intent on ending their marriages would be obliged to pay the proposed new fee of £550, even if they make use of mediation.

By contrast, people involved in other legal issues could avoid the fees by simply choosing not to go to court.

Speaking at a House of Commons Justice Committee meeting, she explained:

‘This is not an optional fee, this has to be paid come what may.”

A fee of £410 is currently charged by divorce courts but the government announced controversial plans to raise additional revenue by increasing the fee by almost a third earlier this year. Estimates suggest that the actual cost of a divorce is just £270. The planned higher fees represent a “significant profit” said Edwards.

Higher rates could encourage additional courtroom wrangling over who should pay the fee, the Resolution chair suggested.

“This is all against a backdrop of quite a rapid move in family proceedings towards a very much more administrative process …so if anything I would expect that the cost of the divorce process is going down.”

Previous proposals to increase the fee to as much as £750 were later abandoned by the government.

Resolution represents family lawyers across England and Wales committed to “a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters”.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. spinner says:

    Of course family lawyers don’t want any barriers to people using the court system as more people may decide not to use it. I hope that the government is gradually moving towards a non court based system with rules defining the responsibilities of each party to each other so reducing the opportunities of lawyers for litigation and to consequently asset strip families when they most need help.

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