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Divorce court fees set to increase again

The government have announced proposals to increase the court fee to apply for a divorce, nullity or civil partnership dissolution by 10% in 2024. This is part of a wider proposal where over 200 fees are set to increase across several courts in England and Wales, including family court, probate, and the civil and magistrates’ courts.

By how much will divorce court fees increase?

Under the proposal, the cost of filing an application for a divorce, nullity or civil partnership dissolution will increase from the current fee of £593 to £652, an increase of £59.

Have the divorce court fees increased before?

Yes, the last time the divorce court fees increased was only three years ago, in 2021, when they increased from £550 to £593. This was an 8% increase. Under the new proposal, the government plans to establish a routine approach to updating fees every two years.

When will the divorce court fees increase in 2024?

This is a government proposal at the moment, and no date of change has been given, so we don’t know yet. However, fee increases like this tend to take place in the new tax year, so April 2024 would be a good guess at this stage. What we do know is that Parliament approved an increase in the Supreme Court fees a couple of weeks ago, and these increases come into effect on April 1, 2024.

Why are court fees increasing?

His Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) is the backbone of our legal system, ensuring everyone’s constitutional right to justice. Whether it’s a financial dispute, a family matter, or an appeal, HMCTS is there to ensure the law is applied fairly and justly.

However, maintaining such a critical service comes with significant costs. Last year alone, the HMCTS needed £2.3 billion to operate, with court fees only contributing £727 million of this amount. While the government covers the rest, it’s crucial that the HMCTS has enough resources to continue providing its services without compromising on access to justice.

The idea of increased fees might raise eyebrows, especially during these times of economic pressure. But it’s worth noting that this proposed increase is below the recent rise in the cost of living, showing a conscious effort to balance necessary funding with public affordability.

Will the increase in court fees affect me?

If your divorce is already in the court system, then you are unlikely to be affected by the increase. However, you will likely face a 10% price increase if you have yet to apply.

What if I can’t afford the court fee increase?

If you receive benefits or are on a low income, it is possible to get help with court fees so that the amount of court fees that you pay is reduced or removed altogether. You can find more about getting help with court fees here.

It is not understood at this stage if help with fees will be affected by the increase in court fees; however, some of the eligibility criteria may change, as they did when the last court fee increase took place in 2021.

How can I avoid paying the increase in divorce court fees?

The only way to avoid paying the increase in divorce court fees is to start your divorce or dissolution before the increase comes in. We don’t know when this will be at the moment, but as soon as we have confirmation, we will update this article. For now, our best guess is April in the new tax year.

If you are thinking about divorce and your finances and want to understand your options, you can email, call us on 0204 530 8101, or book a free consultation with one of our friendly team by clicking here.

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