Justice Select Committee call for ‘divorce tax’ to be rescinded

In March earlier this year, the fee to issue a divorce petition or petition for dissolution of a civil partnership was increased from £410 to £550. This fee increase was introduced by the Ministry of Justice following a consultation on court fees and has been controversial amongst family law practitioners. Solicitors firms were given as little as one week’s notice of the fee increase. This left many people with not enough time to get their petitions into court before the fee hike took place.

The Justice Select Committee has commented on this increase in their recent report on court and tribunal fees and they have criticised the MOJ’s decision.

The Justice Select Committee have argued that the Ministry of Justice did not provide sufficient basis to justify their action. The average cost to the court system of processing a divorce petition and the main suit divorce process was estimated at £270 in January 2015. The previous fee of £410 was therefore already enhanced and the rise to £550 means that the fee to issue the petition is now almost twice what it actually costs the court to process it. The Select Committee have labelled this as almost a ‘divorce tax’ and have recommended that the change be rescinded.

The Select Committee report has been welcomed by solicitors’ organisations but the Ministry of Justice have not yet responded.

The fee to issue a petition currently remains at £550.

Fee remission is still available for those who are on low incomes.

You can read a copy of the Justice Select Committee’s report here:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmjust/167/16707.htm#_idTextAnchor058

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