JEBFor many people the cost of paying for a divorce can be their primary concern. If they are not the main earner this can be even more frightening than worries about meeting their day to day costs. Whilst there may be money available to fund the divorce, this capital can be in the name of their partner or tied up in property or illiquid assets (such as shares or pension funds) leaving less cash in the bank for legal expense and basic living costs while your divorce goes through.

So, what do divorcees need to know about paying for their divorce and which options are open to them? Jill Bruce, senior associate in the Family Law team explains the important facts.

 

How much does a divorce cost?

There is no hiding the fact that divorce can be expensive, but the cost inevitably varies according to the expertise and experience of the solicitor you choose.

Different solicitors charge different hourly rates and, without knowing the difference between them. it's easy to be put off by higher hourly rates and go for the cheapest option.

However, it is important to find a solicitor with the right experience, who is prepared to be upfront and honest about potential legal fees but also committed to ensuring that all avenues are explored, so you spend the right amount to find the right divorce settlement.

This is why it is worth looking for a solicitor who is a member of Resolution. Resolution is the professional body for divorce and family lawyers and its members are all committed to reducing conflict and confrontation in the divorce process.

This conciliatory approach to divorce can reduce the risk of protracted arguments – which can in turn actually help you manage the cost of a divorce.

Longer disputes generally lead to higher legal fees, so by taking the heat out of the divorce process, a specialist family lawyer who is more expensive on paper might actually end up saving you money compared with a non-expert.

 

divorce funding myths

There are two common myths about ways you can pay for your divorce:

Legal aid

This is no longer available for all cases. It is available in particular cases where there is domestic violence and for family mediation. If this applies to you we can advise you on where to seek help.

Paying your partner's divorce fees

It is possible to have an order from a court for one party to pay the other's legal costs in the divorce proceedings.

However, this is limited to the costs of the divorce only - in other words, the costs of the decree(s) which ends the marriage. We can often negotiate a voluntary agreement for one partner to cover part or all of the other's divorce fees.

It does not include one partner paying the other's legal fees for the negotiations over financial separation. A court will only make cost orders relating to financial negotiations where one person has behaved unreasonably in relation to the court proceedings.

 

ways to pay for a divorce

Your legal costs from a divorce can be funded in a number of ways:

A voluntary contribution from your partner

Both of you will have legal costs and need to consider how incurring those will impact on your family assets. If you don't have direct access to the liquid assets we can ask your partner through their solicitors for a fund to be made available to cover legal costs.

Personal loans

If you are working you can explore the possibility of a bank loan. We would ask the court to take into account your need to repay this when deciding on the best settlement for you.

Family Loans

If family members are able to help you with your legal fees, we can advise you on how best to do this so that those are taken into account in your settlement.

Litigation Loans

Loans are available through independent companies to fund litigation. These loans are made on the basis that they are repaid when you receive your settlement. We work with one of these companies Novitas, who are the leading providers of these types of loans. Loans are one funding option that is potentially available and we will work with you to explore all sources of borrowing to ensure you make the best choice for you.

Legal Service Payment Order

If you have explored all of the above and they are not available to you, an application can be made to the court for a preliminary award of monies to cover legal costs.

We will discuss all of the above with you and help you find best course for you.

 

can i choose the solicitor i want?

Often people worry that their partner who may have a higher income will have access to better legal advice. The options above will enable you to fund legal advice that is appropriate to your case.

All our solicitors have specialist knowledge and are able to help you explore all avenues of available funding. We are more than happy to talk to you initially over the phone or by email. For a confidential discussion call Jill Bruce, senior associate on 01872 243335 or email jill.bruce@footanstey.com.



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