Question 39: Does a plaintiff in a divorce case have to pay Court fee when applying for a unilateral divorce? In a divorce case where the two spouses agree to divorce, who will pay the Court fee, how much is the Court fee, and are there any minimum and maximum amount of the Court fee?

Obligation to pay Court fee advances and Court fees is an obligation of the spouses when requesting a competent Court to settle a civil case at their request, except for some special cases where the spouses are exempt from the payment of advance Court fees in accordance with the law[2]. When making a unilateral divorce, the plaintiff must pay an advance Court fees when his or her request for unilateral divorce is settled by the Court. Court fees means an amount that the Court will use to pay to the State budget to pay for the State’s expenses in organising trial activities.

The Court fee of a divorce case will include first instance and if any spouse disagrees with the outcome of the first instance settlement, including appellate Court fee. Whereby:

  1. First instance Court fee

In cases involving a divorce request, the plaintiff is always the one who bears the first instance Court fee, and this does not depend on whether the Court accepts the plaintiff’s request or not[5]. For a divorce case where the two spouses agree to divorce, each spouse shall pay a half of the first instance Court fee being VND150,000 for each spouse. The total Court fee in the case of divorce by mutual consent is VND300,000, this is also the Court fee regarding cases for the plaintiff in a unilateral divorce case who has no disputed properties or is understood as not involving monetary value according to the Resolution No. 326/2016/UBTVQH14[6].

In case where a request for settlement of a divorce has a dispute on properties between spouses, in addition to the above mentioned civil Court fee, the litigant shall also pay the Court fee for the disputed properties similar to that of a civil case involving monetary value, based on value of the properties the spouses are divided. Accordingly, the Court fee levels will be as follows:

Value of disputed property Court fee level
a) From VND6,000,000 or less; VND300,000;
b) From more than VND6,000,000 to VND400,000,000 5% of value of disputed property;
c) From more than VND400,000,000 to VND800,000,000;        VND20,000,000 + 4% of share of value of disputed property exceeding VND400,000,000;
d)  From more than VND800,000,000 to VND2,000,000,000; VND36,000,000 + 3% of share of value of the disputed property exceeding VND800,000,000;
đ) From more than VND2,000,000,000 to VND4,000,000,000; VND72,000,000 + 2% of share of value of disputed property exceeding VND2,000,000,000;
e) From more than VND4,000,000,000.             112.000.000 đồng + 0,1% của phần giá trị tài sản có tranh chấp vượt quá đồng. VND112,000,000 + 0.1% of share of value of disputed property exceeding VND4,000,000,000.

Therefore, it may be considered that the lowest Court fee in a divorce case requiring the Court to settle disputed properties is VND300,000. Where the disputed properties are over VND4,000,000,000, the Court fee will be calculated according to the progressive formula as mentioned above, so there will be no maximum amount for the property disputes.

2. Appellate Court fee

According to regulations of the Resolution No. 326/2016/UBTVQH14, for disputes of civil, marriage and family, and labour, appellate Court fees shall be VND300,000. Obligations of bearing the appellate Court fee of litigants are calculated as follows[8]:

  • For cases where the Appellate Courts uphold the appealed judgements or decisions of the first instance Courts, except from cases where the Court fees for appeal hearings are exempted or are not required to be paid: The Appellants shall bear the Court fees for appeal hearings; and
  • In cases where the Appellate Courts modify or cancel the appealed judgements or decisions of first instance Courts, the appellate Courts deem it necessary to redefine the obligations of first instance Court fees under the laws: the Appellants shall not bear the Court fee for appeal hearings.

It can be seen that, for the determination of the litigant who is obliged to pay the Court fee as well as the amount of Court fee payable, in addition to the provisions of applicable laws as analysed above, the payment of Court fees will depend on nature of the request for divorce, either divorce by mutual consent or unilateral divorce, and whether there is a request for properties provision or not and the value of the properties. Thus, in order to ensure rights and benefits, and avoid losing a large amount of money to pay for the divorce fee, the two spouses should consider and agree in advance, especially the property issue if there is still goodwill to resolve the case mutually.

[2] Article 9 and Article 12 of the Resolution No. 326/2016/UBTVQH14.

[5] Article 147.4 of the Civil Proceedings Code 2015.

[6] List of court fees and statutory fees in Table A of the Resolution 326/2016/UBTVQH14.

[8] Article 148 of the Civil Proceedings Code 2015.

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