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The court fee for divorce is too high, let’s change that

When filing for a divorce, you’re going to need to provide the court with the not unsubstantial figure of £550. Naturally, people want to know why they need to pay this fee and what they’re going to get in return. This is hardly unreasonable so Quickie Divorce thought we’d let you know with this blog post. We also let you know how you can play your part in getting the government to reduce these extortionately high fees.

Firstly, you have to pay the court fee because, unless you’re exempt from the fee and are submitting a completed EX160 form along with your application, the court won’t begin processing your divorce application if you don’t. It’s very common for people to assume that, in return for their fee, they’ll receive completed documents, detailed advice and everything else you’d expect when paying out several hundred pounds – but these people are left disappointed.

The £550 fee paid to the court covers their administrative costs. So, for this fee you get a few documents filed, some paperwork sent to your spouse and a few minutes of a judge’s time. Maybe we’re being a bit reductive, but that really is a reasonable summation of what you get for your money. Surprised? You’re not alone!

You see, it has been suggested – and Quickie Divorce are inclined to agree – that the government has elected to use these fees as a means of monetising marital discord. The Ministry of Justice estimate that a single uncontested divorce costs the court approximately £270 and, as they’re a pretty reliable source, we can confidently say that the fee you pay to the courts covers their costs twice over! Considering that the courts are a public service that receive funding from taxpayers already, we can’t help but think that this is wholly unreasonable.

Maybe, just maybe, you could get away with charging people the £270 – you may even be able to justify raising it slightly to cover costs that’ll come about because of possible phone calls, emails etc. from the Petitioner and, possibly, the Respondent but £550 seems incredibly excessive.

What is particularly concerning is that divorce is already a testing and stressful experience. Artificially inflating these fees only serves to exacerbate this. Some have argued online that increasing these fees discourages couples from divorcing and encourages reconciliation but we couldn’t disagree more. I am yet to encounter anyone that has, following them having decided that a divorce is too expensive, decided to return to a spouse that had previously decided they could no longer live with. Instead, they simply remain separated and don’t get a divorce. Granted, this keeps the divorce rate down, but the social ills that they allege familial breakdown causes – those aren’t going away!

So, I think we can all agree that there is no justifiable reason for the court fee for divorce to be this high – but what can we do about it? Let’s start by letting our local MPs know that we think it’s unfair – you can find their contact details here.

Once you’ve found your local MP’s contact details, simply send them an email stating that you think the court fees for a divorce are unreasonably high and requesting that they be reviewed and prompt a review of these fees.

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