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Divorce & Family Law Help
Who Pays for Legal Fees?
Divorce in the UK is an exercise that has been growing more and more expensive as the years go on. In a recent Guardian article, it said that the average cost of a divorce is estimated to be £13,000, with the more expensive divorces reaching from £25,000 to £50,000.
In the final cost of things, it also does not seem to matter whether the divorce is amicable or not, because much of the legal fees end up going to the solicitor anyway. Nonetheless, no practical couple would want to spend an unreasonable amount of money, even if the divorce is amicable on their own terms.
Despite prevailing opinion of the public, it really does matter if you are the initiating the divorce proceedings or not. If you are the one who is being divorced, you can be ordered by the court to pay all the legal fees for the divorce. This is unjust, but it is based on the old court principles that if you can prove your case before them, then you will also get your costs. This may be useful for other cases and other judicial systems in the UK, but in the family justice system this can be an extremely unfair situation that is created. The petitioner for the divorce nearly always ends up paying the costs of the court fees.
There are several ways to counter this, of course. First, if the divorce is agreed upon by both parties, then it may be possible to halve the legal fees between the two of you. Second, it is possible that the person who petitions for the divorce will not seek a court order for costs against his or her spouse.
It is possible to lower your costs for divorce proceedings if you both decide that you won’t need a solicitor. Here are some situations where it is better to forego the services of one:
- If you and your partner agree on the divorce and on the division of property.
- If you have proper grounds for the divorce.
- If both of you do not have substantial assets.
- If you are not challenging child support or maintenance.
- If your children are of legal age and not minors.
Conducting a do it yourself divorce can also help lower costs, making you seek the advice of a solicitor only when necessary. It also helps to have your partner or spouse to agree with you on important matters as much as possible.
However, if you still need financial assistance from your partner after the divorce, it may be better to get the help of a solicitor to take care of the monthly payments and help make the payments binding.
With some divorce situations, legal aid under the Legal Services Commission (LSC) is available. An advisor will be able to help determine if you are eligible for the aid or not. Legal aid is granted on the demonstration of financial need, so those who wish to apply will have to give their income and expenditures to the LSC.
In the present time, however, many politicians and judges are saying that divorcing couples should have to pay for it, and not rely on the state. Back in 1999, legal aid for civil cases was £848 million, a number that was reduced to £734 million in 2002. While it can be considered difficult for couples to be given legal aid, it does not mean that every case will be rejected. It is still worth your effort to apply.