Cost of family law advice (Alternatives to Court)
At Bennett Welch we understand that the cost of legal advice and representation is often a major concern when couples separate. In order to help, we offer fixed fees for the process of divorce or civil partnership dissolution and different levels of service depending on the needs and wishes of our clients.
It is worth paying for good quality and expert legal advice when you separate. Family law is complicated and it is all too easy to make mistakes if you do not have a Solicitor advising who specialises in this work. Paying to put right mistakes later can cost much more than receiving good advice and avoiding them in the first place. Sometimes it will not be possible to repair the situation.
What assets belong to you and your (ex) partner?
When considering the cost of obtaining professional advice you should balance it against the value of the assets at stake. This might be more than you think, especially when property and pensions are taken into account.
Most of our clients don’t want a protracted and expensive Court battle. We completely agree and support methods of alternative dispute resolution designed to keep matters out of Court if possible.
We do not offer free initial advice sessions. We consider these to be a rather cynical marketing exercise designed solely to bring people in through Solicitors’ doors. At a free half hour meeting it is almost impossible to give potential clients any more assistance than we can give through this website and an initial telephone conversation to book an appointment.
Fixed Fee Divorce and Dissolution Proceedings
For all but the most complicated divorces or dissolutions, or those involving an international element, we can advise and assist you in obtaining a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership for the fixed fee of £750 plus VAT. In addition, HM Courts and Tribunals Service requires you to pay Court fees.
This fee covers the following stages in proceedings for divorce or the dissolution of civil partnership:
1. Taking your initial instructions and advising you.
2. Drafting an application for divorce or dissolution and, if applicable, assisting you in preparing a statement of arrangements for children.
3. Filing the application (and statement of arrangements) at Court.
4. When your spouse or partner acknowledges service, preparing an affidavit in support of your application.
5. Filing your sworn affidavit and supporting documents at Court.
6. Applying for the final order that dissolves your marriage or civil partnership.
This service includes all associated liaison with the Court and you. It does not include any steps that we may have to take to prove service of your application on your spouse, the rare cases in which an answer or cross-application is filed at Court, or work required because the Court raises queries before making an order. Any extra work arising in these situations is charged at our hourly rates.
Fixed Fee Services for Respondents to Divorce and Dissolution Petitions
If you receive a divorce or dissolution petition issued by your spouse or civil partner this will be accompanied by an acknowledgment of service form. Our fixed fee for advising Respondents regarding the law and procedure and for assisting in completing the acknowledgment of service is £300 plus VAT or, if we are also providing initial advice regarding financial issues arising from your divorce or civil partnership dissolution (please see below), £150 plus VAT.
Initial Consultation on Financial Issues Relating to Divorce, Civil Partnership Dissolution or Separation
We offer an initial consultation regarding financial issues in connection with divorce, civil partnership dissolution or separation for a fixed fee of £200 plus VAT. This includes the cost of a meeting, normally lasting around one hour, and further written advice. At the meeting, we will take instructions and give you general advice.
After an initial consultation you should be in a position to choose between various options open to resolve family law disputes, such as mediation, collaborative law and negotiations.
Any further work for you, including answering any follow up queries, will be charged at our hourly rates.
Our hourly rates are set at a level that allow us to provide a comprehensive and fully supportive service to you. For most family law matters our currently hourly rate is £200 plus VAT. For more complicated matters our hourly rate is £220 to £250 plus VAT depending on the specific nature and complexity of the work. A higher rate may apply if the matter proceeds in the High Court or goes to an appeal (most family law matters are dealt with by the County Court or the Family Proceedings Court).
Helping You to Help Yourself
If you want to represent yourself in family matters we can provide advice and assistance as you need it but without going on the Court record as acting for you. However, please note that we can only draft documents and write to other people on your behalf including your spouse or partner, if we are on record as acting for you. We cannot arrange representation at Court for you unless we are on record.
Our usual hourly rates will apply when we are helping you to help yourself. This service is especially appropriate for clients using mediation. We can advise you when you need it on points that come up in the course of litigation and then go on record to obtain a Court order by consent which reflects your and your spouse or partner’s agreement.
Can we predict likely overall fees in any family law matter?
It is impossible, and would be irresponsible, for us to give an indication as to the likely overall costs of our work beyond that covered by fixed fees until we have taken full instructions and have an idea as to the likely reaction and level of co-operation we can expect from your spouse or partner. Situations may subsequently change, so we might have to revise initial estimates as to overall costs.
If any law firm gives fixed predictions as to their overall fees in family law matters alarm bells should be ringing. Especially if they quote a low figure, it suggests that a full service is not on offer or that the person who might deal with your matter is not a suitably qualified Solicitor. The cost to you and your children might end up being many times more than you would save in legal fees.
As well as fees and VAT you will have to pay for disbursements. These are payments made by us on your behalf. The most common disbursements are Court fees, Barrister’s fees and payments to experts such as pension consultants. We will consult you before incurring any disbursement on your behalf.
If you would like to know more please contact Greg Randall at [email protected] or on 020 8670 6141.