The current fee to issue divorce proceedings at court in England and Wales is £550. We are often asked if there is any help available towards this cost. The simple answer is yes, but only in certain circumstances. Help with fees is known as “fee remission” and an application can be made to the Court using the court form EX160 along with your initial application for a divorce. To be eligible for fee remission you must pass two tests, a disposable capital test and a gross monthly income test.
Disposable Capital Test – You must have less than £3000 in savings and investments in order to qualify for fee remission. If you have a partner, you must include their savings too, unless they are your opponent in the proceedings that you are seeking exemption for. If you are over 61 and you’ve got less than £16,000 in savings, you may be able to get help with your fee.
IN ADDITION to this capital limit, you must pass a monthly income test.
Monthly income test – You must be on a low income or in receipt of one of the following benefits – Income-based Job Seekers Allowance,( JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Universal Credit (and you are earning less than £6000 a year), or Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit). The Court will contact the Department for Work and Pensions to confirm that you are in receipt of one of these benefits at the time of your application.
If you are not on any of these benefits, you must have a total monthly income below a certain level in order to qualify for fee remission. If you are a single person with a monthly income of less than £1085, you may be exempt from paying the whole of the issue fee. If you have a partner, you must include their income, (unless they are your opponent in proceedings) but the monthly income limit rises to £1245. In addition, if you have children, you are allowed an extra £245 for each child that you have.
If your income is more than the above limit, but less than £5085, (or £5245 if you are part of a couple as set out above) there is a sliding scale which could mean that you may be eligible to pay a reduced fee. To calculate the amount of the Court fee you would be required to pay, you must start with your monthly income and subtract the initial limit that applies to you, round the figure down to the nearest £10 (£556 becomes £550) and then divide this figure by two to get the amount that you will be required to pay. You may be required by the Court to give evidence of your income, such as bank statements, wage splits etc. Although, at first glance , the financial eligibility criteria can seem complicated, we at RJT Solicitors can give you all the guidance and support that you need to complete the relevant application and guide you through the whole of the divorce process.