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Government Scrap Proposals to Increase Divorce Fee

The Government has announced that it has scrapped plans to increase the cost of beginning divorce proceedings in the UK following a consultation on the matter.

Under potential reforms, the government had proposed almost doubling the cost of getting a divorce from £410 to £750, however this has been scrapped alongside plans to introduce higher fees for commercial proceedings.

Did Not Reflect Current Cost

According to the Ministry of Justice the current price of a divorce is already significantly higher than the cost to the government of £140, and if the price was to be raised further it would be unjust.

Currently the government makes over £16 million a year in profit from divorces, with the UK having one of the highest divorce rates in the UK at 2.8 divorces for every 1000 people.

Rejected by the Consultation

The decision to scrap the increase in cost of divorce was well received by the vast majority of those consulted. The consultation found that the increase in cost was “wrong in principle” to profit from those going through a divorce. The breakdown of a relationship would lead to many families being torn apart, with the consultation feeling it was unfair to profit from divorces. Furthermore the consultation found that the increase in cost could affect the poorest couples meaning that they could effectively be stuck in a marriage,

The increase in cost could also affect women, who are more likely to file for divorce than men, with some in the consultation fearing that the rise in cost would lead to domestic violence, with many being unable to afford to end violent relationships. Results from the consultation found that an increase in the cost of a divorce could result in couples being unable to move on to form new relationships, and failing to be protected by the law if they were to form new relationships. Some consulted on the proposed change believed that many would be deterred from getting a divorce even if it was needed due to the increase cost.

Further Reform

Although the government scrapped the introduction of higher charges proposed to the divorce application fee, they did opt to increase the fee to issue proceedings for the recovery of money to 5% of the value of the claim for all claims over £10,000.

Justice Minister Shailesh Vara, said: “If we are to reduce the costs of the courts to the taxpayer, and protect access to justice, I am convinced that there is no alternative but to look to those who use the courts to contribute more, where they can afford to do so.”

She added: “These measures will deliver an estimated £120 million in additional income, with every pound retained by the courts to invest in delivering a better service for those who use them.”

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