Government Imposes Court Fee Cost Increases For Divorce – What Does It Mean For You?

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Has the cost of court divorce fees gone up?

Yes, the court fee for divorce has increased. The government has imposed a widespread increase in court fees, ignoring the majority of consultation respondents who opposed such a measure.

Back in March, Easy Online Divorce, along with law firms, local authorities, and public members, took part in a consultation about increasing court fees and help with fees income thresholds.

We, along with 61% of responses, disagreed with applying inflation to selected court fees. We argued that not only was it the wrong time to increase costs due to the impact of Covid-19, but it further widens the gap between those that can and those that cannot afford to divorce – forcing more people to remain in unhappy and loveless marriages.

Why has the court fee increased for divorce?

Despite the opposition, the Ministry of Justice pressed ahead with fee increases, saying there was a strong justification for the court fees to go up in price. The government response states: ‘The proposed increases reflect historic inflation and are therefore not an increase in real terms. The income generated from these proposals will go towards the running cost of HMCTS and will ensure that the courts and tribunals can continue to deliver access to justice for all.’

What does this mean for me and my divorce?

The increase in court fees will push up the cost of your divorce. From 30 September 2021:

  • Court fees for divorce applications increase from £550 to £593
  • Court fees for financial consent orders such as clean breaks increase from £50 to £53

Do I have to pay the court fee for a divorce?

The court fees are not applicable in every case. If you have a low income, receive certain benefits and have little or no savings, you may not have to pay the court fee. The scheme is called Help With Fees, and you can read more about it in our article here. While the cost fee has increased, the threshold for help with fees is more generous, which the government says will help all court users access justice.

Increase in help with fees threshold for divorce

A single person whose income is less than £1170 (was £1085) or a couple whose joint income is less than £1187 (was £1345) will not have to pay the court fees. These amounts are also increased by £265 (was £245) for each child the applicant has living with them.

If your income is higher than this, you can still get a discount. The discount works on a sliding scale, with a greater discount, the closer you are to the £1170 threshold. If you think you are eligible for the discount, contact us to find out how much you’ll pay.

What is the total cost of divorce?

While the court fee is a significant portion, the most cost of divorce goes to high street solicitors. The cost of a solicitor can vary wildly. We hear of some eye-watering and frankly unjustified amounts when we speak to clients, so be careful of opportunists.

At the low end of the scale, a high street solicitor starts at around £750 + £592 court fees = £1342. The average divorce with a solicitor in the UK comes in at £1200 + £592 = £1792. If you need to go to court, the cost of divorce jumps up to £10,000 – £15,000 if resolved reasonably quickly. If a fully contested hearing in court is needed, this can shoot up to £25,000 and over.

There is some good news – how to keep the cost of your divorce low.

Give me the good news, James! Ok, I will. Most separating couples don’t need to use a solicitor for their divorce. If your divorce is contested or highly complicated, it is difficult to avoid using a solicitor. These would be situations where divorcing couples cannot, under any circumstances, reach an agreement on the divorce, on the division of assets or the care of dependant children. But 99% of divorces in England and Wales are uncontested. That means a lot of money is wasted unnecessarily.

How much will a divorce cost me?

If you and your spouse are amicable or agree to the divorce, you don’t need to blow a fortune on legal bills with a solicitor. That’s where Easy Online Divorce comes in. Our fully-managed divorce service is £249 and our couples managed service is £489 saving you an average of £1000 on the cost of your divorce.

Even better, a divorce with us is much faster than with a traditional solicitor. The average divorce in the UK takes 53 weeks! Imagine having to deal with your divorce for a year!? Well, you don’t because at Easy Online Divorce, we average three to four months!

So if you want to save money AND divorce fast, get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

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