With one day's notice to family lawyers the Government has increased the Court fee for starting a divorce. From 21st March 2016 this is now £550.00 whereas before that it was £410.00.
There is a mechanism for the Court to consider allowing exemption from Court fees where financially eligible but the procedure for this is so long winded that it can often be uneconomic to make an application for exemption! This leaves anyone starting a divorce having to pay a much larger fee now to the Court whether that be with a Solicitor acting or without a Solicitor being involved. The Government has justified this on the basis that the Courts need to be much more self-financing. However this large increase with the promise of other Court fees going up as well is attracting much criticism.
Family Court fees have increased but the Court fees for civil claims that are not family related have increased by an even greater amount. Everyone is being discouraged from going ahead with Court Proceedings at all and being subtly (or less subtly) directed towards alternative dispute resolution (ADR - mediation, collaborative law and arbitration). What the Government has not been able to address is that having paid the Court fee there is no additional charge for taking up the time of the Court or a Judge with a Hearing or Hearings however much time that takes. With the cutbacks in legal aid many more people are now acting in person and do not always fully understand any application they make or the wisdom of pursuing it. That can result in Judges having to spend a disproportionate amount of time in dealing with such cases which might previously have never got as far as a Hearing at all. So the saving of money on the legal aid fund is just resulting in additional monies having to be spent elsewhere!
For more information on the services the Family Law team provide please visit the dedicated webpages following this link If you would like to speak to a member of the Family Law team please call 01603 693500 or email using the 'make an enquiry' form.