Reducing the Cost of your Divorce: the Court Fee
Divorce is never cheap but, if you do your research, the cost can be reduced. So, with this in mind, we’ll be preparing a series of posts where we discuss the various ways people can save money on theirs, starting with the court’s fees.
If you receive any of these benefits, you won’t need to pay the court fee
If you have less than £3,000 in savings (£16,000 if you’re 61 or older) and receive one of the following benefits, you won’t need to pay a penny to the courts when you file for divorce:
- 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)
Your monthly pay also affects the court fee
If you don’t receive one of these benefits, you still won’t need to pay the court fee if you have a low income. Even in the event that your income exceeds what is officially classed as low, you’ll still be entitled to a discount if you earn less than £5,085 before tax every month. The greater the disparity between what you earn and this figure, the greater the discount on the court’s £550 fee.
How to work out what you’ll need to pay the court when filing for divorce
The first thing you’ll need to do is work out whether you don’t need to pay the court’s fees because of your income.
In order to do this, you’ll need to do some calculations. Start with a base amount of £1,085 or £1,245 if you live with a partner. Then add an additional £245 for every dependent child you or your partner have that lives with you or that either of you pay maintenance for. For the avoidance of doubt, a dependent child is a child that lives with you and is no older than 16 (or up to 19 if they’re still in full-time education (excluding university)).
For example, if you lived with two children aged 11 and 14, your maximum monthly income would be £1,575 before tax. If your monthly income is below the resultant figure, you’ll be exempt from paying the entire court fee. If it’s higher, you’ll probably still be entitled to a discount.
Calculate your actual income
Calculating your monthly income is, whilst not terribly complicated, not as simple as you’d think.
The first thing you’ll need to do is work out what your employer/s pay you each month before tax. If you’re salaried and work a consistent number of hours per week, this’ll be as simple as dividing your annual salary by 12. If you work shifts and your income varies from month to month, you should work out your average income over the previous three months. If you live with a partner, you’ll need to include their income, too.
Once you’ve calculated your and, if applicable, your partner’s income from employment, you’ll need to add on additional sources. This includes any income you may receive from rent, investments, interest on savings etc. You should also include any additional monies you receive via benefits, though you should not include any you receive from the following:
- Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)
- Attendance Allowance
- Back to Work Bonus
- Bereavement Allowance
- Budgeting Advances paid under Universal Credit
- Budgeting Loan
- Carer’s Allowance
- Carer Element of Universal Credit
- Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit
- Childcare Element of Universal Credit
- Cold Weather Payment
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- Direct payments made under Community Care, Services for Carer and
- Children’s Services
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Disabled and Severely Disabled elements of Child Tax Credit
- Disabled and Severely Disabled Child elements of Working Tax Credit
- Disabled and Severely Disabled Child elements of Universal Credit
- Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance
- Financial support under an agreement for the foster care of a child
- Funeral Payment
- Housing Benefit
- Housing Credit Element of Pension Credit
- Housing Element of Universal Credit
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Independent Living Fund payment
- Limited Capability for Work Element of Universal Credit
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Any pension paid under the Naval, Military and Air forces etc. (Disablement and Death) service Pension Order 2006
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Short Term Benefit Advances (STBAs)
- Universal Credit Advances
- Widowed Parent’s Allowance
The fee you’ll pay when filing for divorce
Once you’ve worked out your monthly income before tax, you should deduct your maximum payment from this figure. You’ll then need to divide the figure you get by two and round it down to the nearest ten; this is the fee you’ll pay to the courts when filing for divorce.
So, if you’re monthly income before tax was £1,850 then, after deducting the maximum figure of £1,575 used in the example above, you’d be left with £275. After dividing this figure by two, you’re left with £137.50 which, when rounded down, becomes £130. With the standard court fee for divorce standing at £550, this represents a significant saving of £420.
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