The Government has rejected a recommendation that the divorce fee rise should be rescinded, it has been announced.
The new £550 petition fee for divorce came into effect on 21 March this year.
The House of Commons Justice Committee recommended earlier this year that the Government should remove the increase, calling the added fees “offensively perfunctory”.
But in a response to the Committee’s suggestions, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said there is “no evidence so far” that the fee increase has led to a fall in applications for divorce.
An MoJ spokesperson said: “Help is available to those who qualify under the fee remissions scheme, known as Help with Fees, which helps to ensure that those who are unable to pay are not denied access to justice. In the circumstances of a divorce (or any other matter where the parties have a contrary interest in proceedings) the applicant is assessed on his or her own, rather than the household’s, means.”
On this basis, women are more likely to qualify for a fee remission than men, he adds.
The MoJ believe that the new divorce fee will generate an estimated £12 million per annum in income, required to make sure that the courts and tribunals are properly funded, and that access to justice is protected.
Meanwhile, Bob Neill MP, Chair of the Justice Committee, voiced his disappointment in the Government’s response.
He said: “Perhaps more concerning is that it is almost offensively perfunctory, appearing to have been rushed out at short notice and giving little evidence of attention paid to the Committee’s detailed evidence and analysis.
“This is all the more surprising given that Government has had more than four months to produce this reply.”
“I therefore intend to raise this matter and possible further steps with the Committee at our next meeting,” he added.