Court fees are likely to rise – see our comments below reporting on the budget. If you have a matter in court, don’t forget to speak to your solicitor about applications you can make to reduce or waive the fees if paying them will cause financial hardship. Alliance Family Law solicitor Sharla Stevens recently obtained a reduction in fees of almost $600 by simply lodging a form on the client’s behalf at the registry, in a divorce matter.
Federal Court fees will rise under the Government’s 2015 Budget, which some are describing as creating a ‘divorce tax’. The changes involve streamlining and ‘improving the sustainability of the federal courts’ and are projected to raise $87million in revenue from the Family Court, Federal Circuit Court and Federal Court of Australia. The revenue raised will go towards streamlining and refurbishing the three courts, with the Government also collecting $35.2million.
The Opposition has criticised the revenue-raising, given the Family Courts are widely regarded as being over-worked and desperately under-resourced.
Further, this year’s Federal Budget does not include assistance for the legal aid sector despite similar criticisms of chronic underfunding:
Since January 2014, $60 million of Commonwealth funding for legal aid has been cut, affecting the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service, Community Legal Centres, Legal Aid and the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Service…
According to the Productivity Commission’s recent Access to Justice Arrangements report, another $200 million is required to address the urgent need for increased legal aid services.
Full Budget details will not be available until July 1.