Going through a divorce is undoubtedly a difficult time, not least because of the daunting legal fees involved. Many people have insufficient savings and income to meet their monthly legal bills, and funding via legal aid is now very rare in family law proceedings. We will always be frank with you at the outset about fees and keep you well informed of the likely costs as your matter progresses. We are happy to have a conversation with you about your budget and discuss the cost-effective ways of dealing with your divorce or children dispute, whether that is by representing you in full and handling all the day-to-day aspects of your case, or by guiding you through the process in the background while you represent yourself in court.
We have set out below some of the options that many clients use when they do not have sufficient capital or income to meet their legal fees.
Funding through loans/credit cards
It is not uncommon for individuals to fund their ongoing legal fees by taking out a loan or credit card, where they don’t have sufficient liquid capital or disposable income available. Such liabilities are generally taken into account in the overall financial settlement, and provision is usually made for loans/credit cards that were taken out for the purposes of meeting legal fees to be repaid, for instance, from the sale proceeds of a property.
Borrowing money from family and/or friends to assist in meeting legal fees is also commonplace. However, legal advice should always be sought prior to taking these steps, as there is a risk that this sort of borrowing may be considered a “soft loan” by the court, meaning that in the eyes of the court, the loan does not necessarily need to be repaid. Therefore, borrowing from friends and family may not be factored into a resolution of the finances in the same way that commercial borrowing is likely to be.
While we do not offer this service, some companies are willing to lend individuals money to fund their solicitor’s fees, barrister’s fees and disbursements. Typically, the loan is secured over a property that will likely be sold upon the conclusion of the divorce proceedings, at which time the loan is repaid. Because of the risky nature of these types of loans, they tend to have very high interest rates and are therefore not usually advisable unless other options have first been explored.
Can I get my ex to pay my legal fees?
The general rule in both children and financial proceedings is that each party pays their own legal costs. However, in some circumstances, if you do not have the means to meet your legal fees but your ex does, you might be able to apply for a Legal Services Payment Order. This is an order of the court requiring one party to contribute towards the other party’s legal fees.
Legal Services Payment Orders are not granted lightly and you must first evidence that you are not able to obtain commercial funding or a litigation loan, in order to be successful in such an application. Further, it is crucial that your ex has the means to meet the legal fees.
If you would like to discuss any of the above, or any other issues relating to divorce or separation, our team of specialist family law solicitors are more than happy to discuss your situation with you. Please contact us by telephone or email.