Government listens to Resolution and shelves plans to double the divorce fee

04 Nov 2014

Resolution welcomes the news that Government has shelved plans to double the divorce fee. We believe that there is no justification for charging people more than the actual cost to use a service to pursue a legal remedy that is their statutory right, which we put forward to the Ministry of Justice during a consultation in January.

In our response, we argued the proposed divorce petition fee of £750, almost double the current fee of £410, was disproportionate to the actual cost and there was no apparent commitment to that revenue being spent on under resourced family court services. Increasing the fee would have put divorce beyond the financial reach of many couples, leaving them in a legal limbo unable to dissolve their marriage. This could potentially have led to people remaining in marriages which have failed and in conflict for longer, which has been consistently shown not to be in the best interests of children.

Unfortunately, marriages sometimes come to an end and people decide to divorce for many emotional reasons, often after attempts to save their marriage and in mutual agreement. It is extremely rare for a divorce to be defended and it is divorce law which requires people to blame each other in the divorce petition if they do not want to wait for two years to begin their divorce. With help from Resolution members, the vast majority of couples do not litigate at all in relation to resolving matters ancillary to the divorce.

We argued that increasing the divorce fee would not in itself have encouraged parties to mediate or resolve issues through out of court family dispute resolution – there is no alternative to court, as the court has to process a divorce, whether a couple uses an out of court dispute resolution method or not.

We are pleased that the Government has listened to reason and taken the decision not to unfairly penalise people for pursuing their legal right to divorce.