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Significant Increases to Many Family Law Filing Fees Will Not Take Effect

Amendments to the regulations setting out the fees payable upon filing family law documents in the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia were due to commence on 1 July 2015. These regulations were to implement significant increases to a number of the fees payable to the courts in family law matters, including the following:
(i) Application for Divorce fee in the Federal Circuit Court increasing from $845 to approximately $1,195 ($350 increase);
(ii) Fees for Consent Orders increasing from $155 to $235 ($80 increase);
(iii) Fees for issuing subpoenas increasing from $55 to $120 ($65 increase);
(iv) A 10% increase to all fee categories not subject to a targeted increase; and
(v) A new fee category for amended applications ($120).
The proposed fee increases came as a result of the Government’s new budget measures, with the Government seeking to raise a reported $87.4 million from the increases. Only $24 million of the expected revenue was expected to be returned to the Courts.
The proposed fee increases were met with strong opposition from members of the legal profession and in particular the Law Council of Australia. The primary concern was that the increases would put additional financial strain on separating families and undermine access to justice.
In response to the proposed changes the Law Council President, Mr Duncan McConnel was quoted as saying that “many people on middle-to-low incomes may now find it simply too expensive to enforce their rights through the courts, which will undermine the rule of law and the proper administration of justice.”
Further, Mr Geoff Sinclair, the immediate past chairman of the Law Council Family Law Section, said the increase could discourage parties who were able to resolve their family law disputes from properly recording their agreements. This could lead to them reopening their disputes later.
On 25 June 2015, the Senate voted in favour of a motion to disallow the proposed amending regulations. As a result, there will be no family law fee increases on 1 July 2015 and current fees payable in the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court will continue to apply.

By Nicholes Family Lawyers

 

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