Proposed Divorce Fee Increase on the Rocks

By Danny Bycroft • In Family LawComments Off on Proposed Divorce Fee Increase on the Rocks

The decision of the United States Supreme Court to allow same sex couples the constitutional right to marry has continued to be a talking point in Australia this week. At the other end of the spectrum, however, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, about 40% of marriages on home shores are doomed to end in divorce.

With such high numbers of marriages going down the path of failure it was surprising that, earlier this year, a proposed increase of almost 50% to the fees levied by Australian Courts did not garner more attention. The current divorce application fee of $845 was to increase by almost 50% to $1195. Along with this the cost of issuing a subpoena was planned to more than double from $55 to $120, and amending an application in the family court was to incur a new fee of $120.

The mischief behind the proposed fee increase was a windfall of $87.7 million in revenue for the Federal Government. Of this $22.5 million was earmarked to streamline the often slow moving Family Court of Australia. This family law specific arm of the judiciary allows Australians to resolve their most complex family disputes including cases involving family breakdowns, child custody, property settlements and spousal maintenance.

However last week the Australian Senate moved to strike down the proposed increases. Some senators described the drastic increase to fees as a barrier to justice and as targeting people at their most vulnerable time.

One offshoot of the high cost of Court action is an increase in the use of non-court resolution options. This includes mediation, negotiation and collaborative resolutions between the parties. However settlements are still often registered with the Family Court of Australia through an Application for Consent Order.

Regardless of fee increases it seems that even with an expanding interpretation of “marriage” in modern society, people will continue to look to the courts for assistance to annual those matrimonial vows.

Margaret Miller of Bell Legal Group has been providing clients with considered and strategic advice in all areas of family law for over 30 years. Margaret understands the personal and commercial cost of legal disputes and strives to achieve practical results for her clients. For advice with regard to divorce, financial agreements / settlements, parenting arrangements or any other family specific matters contact Margaret on (07) 5597 3366 or mmiller@belllegal.com.au.

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