The government has dropped a proposal that would have raised the fee for applying for divorce from £410 to £750. The move comes in response to the strong criticisms the proposal received during consultation. The Ministry of Justice also acknowledged that the estimated cost of divorce proceedings is £270, already less than the current fee charged.
The criticisms provided by respondents of the consultation included there being no persuasive justification for the fee raise. As well as this, they decided that it was ethically wrong to increase costs for court proceedings dealing with the breakdown of a family and that the increased fee would restrict the availability of divorce with damaging consequences for many people, as well as potentially discriminating against the majority of women who seek divorce, trapping them in unhappy or abusive relationships.
The proposal was made as part of a wider program of reform to increase court income through fees due to financial pressure on the courts. By prescribing fees in excess of costs, the government hopes to fill the shortfall. Consultation on the rest of the proposals will conclude on 27th February, when the government will respond to its findings and decide the next step of the proposals.