The Ministry of Justice recently concluded a consultation on family law court fees, confirming an upcoming rise for various court and tribunal proceedings, except for divorce applications. Despite proposals to raise the divorce application fee, currently set at £593, it has been decided to maintain the current rate.

Why won’t divorce fees increase?

The consultation sought public input on the principle of adjusting family law court fees to match changes in the overall price level, the specific fees to be raised, and how these changes might affect individuals with protected characteristics. Respondents emphasised that seeking a divorce is often a distressing necessity, and the high court fees seem punishment enough for those seeking to end their marriage.

Concerns were raised about the potential impact of increased court fees on access to justice, especially for women, who statistically initiate divorces more frequently than men. Some argued that the existing fee is already prohibitive, forcing couples to remain in unhappy or even abusive relationships due to financial constraints.

Respondents also noted that the current fee likely exceeds the actual cost of the service provided. They highlighted the streamlining of administrative processes through digital services and the introduction of no-fault divorce, eliminating the need for couples to assign blame, thus reducing unnecessary disputes.

In light of these concerns and in the spirit of fairness (or maybe just to avoid the likely public uproar), it has been decided that a fee increase for divorce would not be proportionate at this time, and the current fee of £593 will be retained.

So, how does this affect me?

If your case is already within the court system, you will not be subject to the upcoming fee increases. However, if you have yet to initiate proceedings, from May 1, 2024, the following changes will be made:

Impact on Child-Related Court Cases

Child arrangements or child custody orders, which outline parental responsibilities regarding children’s living arrangements and contact with both parents, will experience a fee increase from £232 to £255. This adjustment also applies to other court orders concerning children, such as Specific Issue Orders, Prohibited Steps Orders, Special Guardianship Orders, and applications for parental orders.

Furthermore, the fee for applications related to adoption, or seeking permission to apply for adoption, will rise from £183 to £201.

Financial and Adoption Fee Changes

  • For financial order applications not obtained through a mutual agreement, the fee will increase from £275 to £303.
  • Additionally, the cost of financial consent orders is set to rise from £53 to £58.

Divorce: A Stressful but Navigable Process

The divorce process typically involves three main components: the legal procedure itself, often conducted online; resolving financial matters; and addressing any arrangements regarding children. Divorce is widely acknowledged as one of life’s most stressful events. If you’re navigating a divorce or attempting to resolve issues regarding your children, know that feeling anxious is natural and that there are healthy coping mechanisms available, and our expert divorce solicitors in Norfolk and Norwich can guide your process.

How We Can Help

We understand the complexities and sensitivities of these proceedings and are here to support you through this challenging time. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our Family Law Solicitors and allow us to alleviate some of the burdens associated with the process.

Get in touch with us.