Mark Heppinstall of Freeths features in The Hug Directory. He has very kindly written a guide on how to pay for your divorce solicitor if you are using a family law firm.
Divorce can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be
There are a number of ways to fund the cost of a divorce and in every case it is important to balance the costs and benefits. If you are thinking about consulting a lawyer then they should speak with you to discuss your options fully.
They should also discuss different ways to fund your case to make sure you can make an informed decision that’s right for you. Remember, you are in charge, not your lawyer. If you are not sure about something make sure you ask, question them and hold them to account. Decisions that are made during a divorce can affect you for the rest of your life – so it’s important that you feel comfortable your case is being managed in the right way to achieve what matters to you.
Be cautious if you are promised the earth or if cost estimates seem too good to be true.
Fixed fees don’t always tell the full story, they might not include court fees, disbursements or other potential expenses. Similarly if cost estimates seem on the high side trust your instincts and always feel free to get a second opinion.
Q&A with Mark Heppinstall
“How to pay for your divorce solicitor”
How can working with you save people money?
We will always discuss this carefully with clients and do our best to make sure clients are equipped with enough understanding of the ways they can use a lawyer to make an informed decision about how they want to manage a retainer. Frankly, this applies irrespective of whether a prospective client chooses to instruct me or someone else. It is always important that any prospective client feels comfortable with their representation, confident that their lawyer is a good match for them and satisfied that the service is being provided in the right way.
A good lawyer should make sure a client understands the different ways legal services can be engaged, to include unbundled services at arm’s length, the full range of alternative dispute options, the collaborative model of practice, mediation, arbitration, informal negotiations and more traditional approaches to representation to include a court timetable.
How can people fund their divorce?
- Using capital, savings or income where financial resources allow it. Borrowing from friends, family or banks.
- A litigation loan from a specialist litigation lender.
- An application for a Legal Services Order under section 22ZA MCA 1973 ( you can mention this to your family solicitor).
- Legal aid in limited cases if a party qualifies and their lawyer offers legal aid through a contract with the LAA (Legal Aid Agency) (Freeths are not able to run cases on a legally aided basis but we will always signpost to firms that do where this is possible).
What if, for example the wife has no assets, there is no family home, but the husband has many assets but no cash in the bank, nothing liquid.
Possibly a litigation loan or third party borrowing. Maybe an LSPO under s.22ZA MCA 1973 although I think the latter would be a struggle – My instinct is an LSPO would probably be unsuccessful on those facts. In some instances a party may qualify for legal aid but the criteria for this has been restricted following LASPO.
LASPO is “The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012”, which is a piece of legislation that slashed legal aid from many areas of law, including most private family cases, from April 2013.
It means that Legal Aid is now very difficult to secure.The Group Hug
Do you deal with litigation loan companies?
Yes. We will signpost clients to a number of litigation lenders subject to clients obtaining appropriate third-party (financial) advice when considering appropriate funding mechanisms.
Have you ever helped people with funding their divorce?
Yes – the outcome generally is that clients will fund their costs through one of the above mechanisms. As an aside sometimes to tie in with a LSPO we will make parallel applications for interim maintenance (or negotiate this by consent with the other-side) if our client requires support to meet other costs of living during the currency of proceedings.