The true cost of divorce
On 21st March the price of getting divorced soared by 34% as the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) raised its fees from £410 to £550.
This sudden hike has angered many family lawyers and judges who have heavily criticised the change, particularly as the actual cost of the legal procedure has been shown to be £270, meaning that the MoJ are seemingly making a profit.
Jo Edwards, Chair of Resolution (family lawyers organisation) has called the changes ‘scandalous’ and pointed out that for couples wishing to end their marriage, issuing divorce proceedings is a necessary part of the legal process. This ultimately means that, at a time when separating couples are already suffering the emotional turmoil of a marriage breakdown and the financial difficulties which inevitably follows, they now have no choice but to pay the ‘divorce tax’ which has been imposed on them.
Concerns have been raised as to whether the increased fee may act as a disincentive to couples who would have otherwise looked to deal with the end of their marriage in a timely manner. Not only could this have serious consequences for separating couples in terms of dealing with the division of matrimonial assets, it could also be detrimental to victims of domestic violence and expose children of unhappy marriages to a risk of emotional harm.
Recent surveys have already shown that children/young adults who have endured their parents separating would prefer their parents to go their separate ways rather than stay together for ‘the sake of the children.’ Whilst their parents divorce can be unsettling for children, it is accepted that it is the exposure to conflict which is most damaging to the children, as opposed to the actual divorce process itself. The question has to be asked then: if more parents are put off from issuing proceedings as a result of the increased court fees, are the children likely to be the biggest victims here?
What can couples looking to separate do?
Do not be deterred. Obtain specialist legal advice from a family lawyer. Whilst there is little that can be done about the change in the court fees, (save for the few who may be entitled to a fee remission), a family lawyer can ensure that your personal, financial and legal interests are otherwise looked after.
asb law are alive to the sensitivities involved in any relationship breakdown and work with all of our clients to achieve the outcome they’re looking for. We’ll bring tact and diplomacy to enable the couple to move forward as amicably as possible. After all, when the dust finally settles, family ties continue long after a relationship ends.
For more information please contact Gail Brooks, Associate, Private Client - Family.
Published: 12 May 2016