Divorce fee to double under government plan

In an attempt to find savings in Denmark’s regional administrations, the government has proposed increasing the fee to file divorce papers to 900 kroner

Getting a divorce may become almost twice as expensive if the government presses ahead with a proposal to increase the fee from 500 kroner to 900 kroner.

The fee hike was proposed by the economy minister, Margrethe Vestager (Radikale), and discussed today in parliament’s economy committee as part of the government’s efforts to save 93 million kroner in all five of Denmark’s regional administrations, or statsforvaltninger, by 2015.

“People that get divorced pay a fee,” she told Politiken. “That fee has not been adjusted since 1992 so I think it is fair that the fee is regulated.”

Couples have to pay the fee to get divorced after finishing a mandatory six-month separation period. According to Politiken, the government now wants to enable couples to get divorced without being separated first.

Couples who do separate will be required to pay a 900 kroner fee. If they subsequently get divorced, they will have to pay an additional 900 kroner.

The proposal has been met with strong political opposition. Venstre tax spokesperson Torsten Schack Pedersen said it is “sad that even people in trouble and getting divorced are not free from the government’s grubby hands that are trying to prise more money from the pockets of Danes.”

Vestager defended the proposal, however, and argued that the increased fee would simply cover the costs.

“It’s a fee that will contribute to ensuring that the costs of handling the case are actually covered. The alternative would be to ask tax payers to finance it,” Vestager said, adding that it is unlikely the proposal will find enough political support for it to be passed by parliament.

Denmark’s five regional administrations have been criticised for being economically inefficient and taking too long to handle case work.

In March, a government committee established to find ways to save the 93 million kroner also suggested taking away some responsibilities of the administrations.

Creating one central administration for handling some cases while keeping some of the case work locally has been proposed as a way to cut costs and enable the administrations to eliminate 95 of their 695 employees.