Raising the bar to divorce
Date posted: 9 May 2016
On 21st March 2016 we saw the Court fee to issue a divorce petition rise from £410 to £550. Set against a backdrop of cuts to legal aid, this increase is likely to raise the financial barrier to divorce.
According to figures published in December 2013, 42% of marriages end in divorce. It is reported that this is the lowest figure in 40 years.
If people find it harder to divorce due to increasing financial constraints, the number of petitions for divorce is likely to decrease further.
There is an interesting debate to be had on the effect of recent changes. While the government will boast about the rising figures of married couples and reduced rate of divorce, will the truth be that more people freely choose to stay married or will the changes to legal aid funding and costs by the nanny state be forcing couples to remain married?
We all heard the Prime Minister tell us before the last election that he is keen to promote marriage during this term in government. The marriage tax allowance and the strongly welcomed legalisation legalising gay marriage are efforts by our current government to encourage and promote marriage. Alongside the rising barriers to divorce, we could say that our right to family life is being increased because the sanctity of marriage is being strengthened. Conversely, perhaps our freedom is being reduced because of ever increasing barriers to divorce being put in place by our government.
What do we suggest?
If you are petitioning for divorce, you may be eligible for a fee remission. This means that you may only have to pay a part of the £550 issue fee, or none at all.
You can request a fee remission form from the Court. It is also available online along with supplementary guidance notes to assist you with completing the form.
The Court will then assess your means and determine whether the fee can be waived in your case or ask you to pay a lesser fee before your divorce petition is issued.
Wilson Solicitors LLP are able to assist you with completing your application for a fee remission.
We also offer a fixed fee for straightforward, uncontested divorces and competitive rates for more complicated divorces and related matters including child arrangements and financial remedies.