As is always the case, come 1 July of each year, solicitors are provided with notice of changes to fees in all jurisdictions including the family law jurisdiction.
As solicitors we brace ourselves for this news. Too frequently there is concern, that the filing fees will become so excessive that our clients will not be able to afford them. Yes, having a concession card helps, yet even then some struggle to pay those fees. Of course not every client holds a concession card. The reality is that while many family law clients are asset rich they are cash poor and suffer a very real battle to spare any additional funds from the weekly budget. It does become a struggle to find that extra money.
Last year, when the proposed fees for 1 July 2015 were announced and indeed implemented (blink and you missed it), the fees were significantly increased to the point of ridiculous. Furthermore, new fees were established. For example, the filing of an amended application, a common practice that is used in all jurisdictions, would incur a fee.
I know I was shocked at some of the fees, especially the fee increase for filing an Application for Divorce which was set to rise from $845 to a staggering $1,195. That is an increase of $350! This fee does not factor the further cost incurred to personally serve the Application if a private process server is necessary.
Fortunately for both solicitors and clients, the senate voted in favour of disallowing the fees. Solicitor’s rejoiced and the new filing fees were tossed and the old filing fees were reinstated. We are now nearly 7 months into the financial year and there still hasn’t been any update as to the status of the Court filing fees. No doubt there will be new increases on the horizon. . . . we will just have to wait and see!