Do you have to pay the court fee when getting a divorce?
If you’ve been researching divorce in England and Wales, you may have already come across one particularly bad piece of news: you’ll need to pay a fee to the court – and it can be as much as £550! There is some good news, however: it’s possible you won’t need to pay the full fee. Indeed, you may not need to pay it at all!
In order to be entitled to a reduction in these fees you’ll need to have less than £3,000 in savings or investments. This rises to £10,000 if you, or your current partner (not your spouse) are 61 or older.
Then, you’ll need to be receiving one of several state benefits or will have to be earning below a certain amount in order to be entitled to a reduction:
List of benefits:
If you receive one of the following benefits, you won’t need to pay the full £550 when filing for a divorce:
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income Support
- Universal Credit (and you earn less than £6,000 a year)
- Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)
Sadly, as the Ministry of Justice no longer confirms how much applicants will need to pay in accordance with their circumstances, we cannot confirm how much you will need to pay if you’re in receipt of one. Previously, though, applicants in receipt of any of these benefits (with the exception of Universal Credit which was not available at the time) were exempt from paying the court fee altogether and we’d assume that this is still the case.
If you do not receive any of the benefits listed above, you can have the fee waived entirely if your monthly earnings, before tax, are below a certain amount.
If you earn less than £1,085 a month before tax, you’ll be entitled to help with these fees. This figure increases to £1,245 if you live with a partner (though you’ll also need to include their monthly income in your earnings) and by £245 for each dependent child you have. For example, if you lived with your partner and your three dependent children, you would not need to pay any court fees if your monthly earnings before tax were less than £1,980 each month.
If you earn more:
In the event that you earn more than this, you will still be able to have your court fee reduced if you earn less than £5,085 each month. Again, this figure increases to £5,245 if you live with a partner and by £245 for each dependent child that lives with you.
You can then determine how much you’ll need to pay by taking your actual monthly income, deducting the flat rate mentioned in the previous section (i.e. £1,085, £1,245 if living with a partner etc.) from your monthly income, rounding the resulting figure down to the nearest £10 (i.e. £246 would become £240) and then dividing this by two.
So, if you lived without a partner and two children and earnt £2,300 per month before tax, you’d use the following formula:
£2,300 minus £1,575 = £725 (rounded down to £720 and divided by 2) = £360
What you’ll need to do
If you think you’re entitled to help with the court fees for divorce, you’ll need to complete an ex160 form (which you can download from here) and send this to the court along with your Divorce Petition. The courts will then contact you and confirm the fee you’ll need to pay.
How you can save more money on your divorce