Currently, an uncontested divorce in England and Wales costs £410 to be filed in court, but Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Justice, was proposing a fee of £750 per divorce petition filed.
As it stands, the government already generates £17 million profit a year as an uncontested divorce only costs £270, leaving £140 profit in each divorce. However, the new proposals would mean a profit of £480 in each divorce and would generate £30 million in profit for the government.
Many organisations involved in divorce matters had expressed outrage at the new proposals, including Resolution, the national organisation of family lawyers committed to non-confrontational divorce, separation and other family problems, of which Atherton Godfrey is a member. They pointed out that any increase in the fee to file a divorce would mean that some couples would be forced to remain together for longer and this would not be in anyone's best interests, especially where there were children involved.
Litigation costs are being reviewed across the board in England and Wales to try to reduce the financial burden of going to court, and this proposal was just one idea of how to combat the annual £150 million deficit that the Family and Civil Court Division face each year.
Sharon McKie, a specialist divorce lawyer at Atherton Godfrey, said: "The proposed increase has been shelved, at least for now but one does wonder how long it will be before it surfaces again.
"Since the loss of Legal Aid, we as a law firm have been actively looking for ways to improve access to divorce services, so that no one is excluded from being able to pursue this course of action if necessary. We have introduced a range of fixed fees and payment plans and will shortly be introducing an assisted divorce package with gives the client full control of filing their divorce petition, but with the added reassurance of knowing that there is a qualified lawyer on hand if needed."
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