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Has the Government's increase in court fees contributed to decreasing divorce rates?

Ministry of Justice building

Originally published on 28th September 2018 at 10:20 AM

The Telegraph recently released an article stating that divorce rates are at the lowest level in 40 years. The article suggested that this decline may be partly due to the ‘cohabiting revolution’. But I wonder whether this decrease in divorce rates may also be due to the increase in government fees to get divorced.

Are divorce rates down because the cost to divorce has increased?

Back in 2014, there was a decrease in divorces (3.1% to be exact) compared to a 27% decline from a recent peak in 2003. This decrease coincided with the Ministry of Justice increasing the court fee in July 2013 to get divorced to £410.

Fast forward to 2016 and court fees to get divorced are increased again by 34% to £550. The Office for National Statistics data on divorces in 2015 saw another decrease in divorces, a 9.1% decrease from 2014. Both declines seem to occur when there is an increase in government fees which poses the question – are divorce rates down because the cost to get divorced is up?

At amicable we hear couples’ frustrations on the cost to divorce and don’t believe it is fair that couples are held back from a future apart because of government fees.

Considerations for remaining married but living apart

There are big risks with remaining married to someone you are living apart from. You might feel totally separated but if you haven’t divorced you are still tied together financially. Their debts are your debts too, your assets are still marital assets. Without a divorce and a consent order legally separating your finances you aren’t truly separate.

If you have both decided the best thing for your family is to separate then you should aim to divorce as quickly as possible. If you ready to divorce but can’t afford to, check whether you are eligible or exempt:

Are you eligible for a discount?

If any of the following apply you are likely to be.

  • You are under 61 and have less than £3,000 in savings and investments
  • You are over 61 and have less than £16,000 in savings and investments
  • You are on a low income, or on one of the following benefits:
    • 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)
    • Scottish Civil Legal Aid (not Advice and Assistance, or Advice by Way of Representation)
  • You earn less than £1,085 a month before tax if you’re single, or £1,245 if you have a partner
  • You can earn an extra £245 on top of that for each child you have

If the above isn’t relevant to you, read amicable’s guide on keeping the cost of divorce low, as it gives broader advice on divorcing without spending thousands of pounds.

If you have any questions, or would like some support, please book a free 15-minute call with one of our experts here.

Pip Wilson
Pip Wilson
Pip Wilson is co-founder of amicable. She is an entrepreneur and technology expert who is passionate about using technology to tackle social issues.


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