Costs for legal advice and representation when obtaining a divorce can be a delicate subject. If your relationship has broken down you need high quality legal representation immediately but, for many, this is a time when funds may be in short supply.
Sometimes the costs of a divorce can be the “elephant in the room” but, there is no point in the solicitor or client avoiding addressing this issue. It is a subject that needs to be faced at the outset, suitable arrangements put in place and then solicitor and client can focus on the case.
The general rule in most areas of family law, including divorce, is that each side pays their own legal costs. The party who has more money does not usually have to pay the other party’s costs.
How much will a divorce cost?
When we take instructions, we cannot be sure how much a particular divorce case is going to cost but we can usually provide a rough estimate based upon our experience of dealing with similar cases in the past. However, unforeseen circumstances can and often do arise and what seems to be straight forward divorce case, can become complicated particularly where one party seeks to conceal assets or is evasive.
Legal Aid is now only available in exceptional cases and we are no longer able to undertake legal aid work. If we consider that you might be entitled to Legal Aid can refer you to another firm.
Family or friends may be willing to help. Such arrangements should be documented so that it is clear that it is not a gift.
Sometimes, a bank may be prepared to offer a loan so that you can pay charges as they arise.
Some specialised lenders will advance money to pay your legal costs against the prospect of being repaid from a divorce settlement. There are fairly stringent criteria and you have to be virtually certain of winning a sizeable amount, but if you have insufficient money to get to the finish, it may well be an option.
A Legal Costs Allowance from the other party
If you substantially depend on the other party for financial support, we may be able to get an order that they pay for your ongoing legal fees. Those are classed as a part of your regular maintenance payments. This can be a very useful option. Again, there are some fairly stringent criteria. You have to be able to show that other avenues have been exhausted.
No Win/No Fee?
Sometimes we are asked whether we operate a “no win/no fee” system. Such an arrangement is not lawful. but even if it were, that would not work for family law. Getting a maintenance order or a pension share may be a “win” but would not immediately produce funds.
A ‘Sears Tooth Agreement’
A Sears Tooth Agreement is an agreement between solicitor and client that ensures the solicitor is paid for their guidance and actions throughout the divorce without causing financial fears for the client. The solicitor and their client agree that an appropriate amount of the client’s final divorce settlement is provided to the solicitor to meet the fees. Although we will consider this as an absolute last resort there are many drawbacks.
We will raise the question of funding at an early stage and work with you to find the best possible solution.
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