Commenting on today''s revelations that the MoJ are to hike divorce court fees on Monday, Jo Edwards said:
"The stealthy implementation of the hike in divorce fees, from £410 to £550 (after an increase only two years ago) is scandalous and not backed up by a proper impact assessment. As a result of the steep increase, many people currently in the process of separating will have received incorrect information as to the charge for lodging a divorce petition
and, in reality, won''t have time to get their petition in before the fee increase takes effect.
"Divorce is not a ''choice to litigate'' – it''s a necessary part of the legal process to bring a relationship to an end. Whether people mediate, negotiate their own outcome or go to court, they have to pay the divorce petition fee. The actual cost of the administrative process has been shown to be £270, meaning that at new rates the MoJ is making a profit of more than 100% - in effect, levying a divorce tax.
"The 34% increase may lead to people unable to afford the fee remaining legally and financially tied to their former partner long after the relationship has ended. Increasing fees will disproportionately impact women, who constitute two-thirds of those initiating divorce proceedings. The extent of the rise could, as the judiciary and others have warned, lead to women being trapped in unhappy or violent marriages.
"The Government should have waited until the Justice Select Committee, who are currently holding an inquiry into court fees, had published their findings. Instead, the way in which this has been gone about, with no formal consultation or announcement, demonstrates a shocking lack of transparency from government. The manner in which they''re implementing this increase, by calling courts today and instructing them to charge more from Monday, is not how a responsible government department should act.
"This will lead to confusion, hardship, and avoidable additional pain for separating couples."
You may not have to pay a Court Fee, or you may only have to pay a reduced fee if you:
• only have a small amount of savings and investments
• and receive certain benefits
• Income-based Jobseeker''s Allowance
• Pension Credit guarantee credit
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• Working Tax Credit but not in receipt of Child Tax Credit
• or are on a low income
If you are under 61 and have disposable capital of £3,000 or more you will not be able to apply for court fee remission even if you are on benefits
If you are over 61 the threshold is £16,000 disposable capital.
Help with fees is sometimes known as ‘fee remission’
You can find out more about Fee Exemption by reading leaflet EX160a and you can apply for a Fee Exemption by completing Form EX160
. You should apply for your fee exemption prior to submitting your petition
as if you eligible, you will also need to submit your fee exemption certificate along with the petition (Fees cannot be claimed back retrospectively).
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