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Call to scrap divorce fee increase rejected

The government has rejected calls to ditch its increase in court fees for divorce.

The House of Commons Justice Committee had previously recommended that the fee rise, introduced back in March, should be scrapped. Family courts now charge £550 for each couple who wants to get a divorce. Prior to the increase, courts only charged £410 so this represented a steep rise of 34 per cent.

In a report published earlier this year, the Justice Committee called the increase “unjustified” and “superficial” but the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has vowed to keep the price at £550 nonetheless.

They insisted that there were measures in place to “ensure that those who are unable to pay are not denied access to justice”. The MoJ also claimed there was “no evidence so far that the fee increase has led to a fall in applications for a divorce”.

Despite the increase, the government believes the fee for divorce is still “reasonable when considered against the objectives”, adding that it would generate “an estimated £12 million per annum in additional fee income” for the courts.

Conservative MP and former barrister Bob Neill is Chair of the Justice Committee. He called the government’s response to the Committee’s recommendations “disappointing” and “almost offensively perfunctory”. Their rejection seemed “to have been rushed out at short notice” and gave “little evidence of attention paid to the Committee’s detailed evidence and analysis” Neill claimed. Given that they had four months to draft a response, this was “all the more surprising” he said.

Read the full MoJ response here.

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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