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Legal Aid Bill gets Royal Assent – what this means to paying for a divorce

20 May 2012

Legal Aid Changes

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO) has received Royal Assent and is now an Act of Parliament. One of the effects that this legislation will have is to change the scope and eligibility of certain aspects of family legal aid.

These changes, due to be implemented on 1st April 2013, will effectively remove from the right to receive legal aid many of those involved in divorce, children’s disputes and the resolution of financial matters. Only those cases involving domestic violence, forced marriage and local authority intervention with children, will be able to receive assistance from the legal aid scheme.

For the majority of those involved in the divorce and separation process, the legal and financial implications of these changes will be an unwanted additional worry to add to the emotional upset that naturally follows a relationship breakdown.

Basis of charging

One of the first issues a lawyer should address with a client should be the costs of a case. At a time when your emotional and financial security can be at risk, it is a delicate subject to discuss, but nevertheless it needs to be addressed at the outset. The general rule in divorce disputes and children cases is that each party pays their own costs.

It is illegal for solicitors to operate a ‘no win no fee’ system or a ‘percentage of value of the case’ in family proceedings. Most will simply charge their fees on an hourly basis. All solicitors firms are required to provide details of their charging structure and estimate of fees, in advance, with a retainer letter (terms and conditions of business) for the client to accept and sign.
Alternative ways forward

However, at Richard Nelson LLP, we are able to offer you a number of alternative costing and service options – designed to meet your individual needs. We offer a diagnostic consultation free of charge enabling us to establish the individual facts and circumstances of your case allowing an appropriate estimate as to costs can be given. In some cases we may be able to offer you a fixed fee.

Whilst it is not always possible to tell you exactly how much your case is going to cost, nevertheless we can provide a rough estimate that will enable you to budget. Do, however, bear in mind that this is only an estimate and that if unforeseen circumstances do arise – for example the other party proving to be difficult over reaching a settlement – a case may end up costing more than originally expected. Should such unforeseen circumstances arise then we will always make sure that a revised costs estimate is provided at the earliest opportunity.

In straight forward and agreed cases, where for example the divorce is uncontested, a fixed fee can be quoted. Using this option we can take care of the legal work from beginning to end and provide you with the face to face support you may need to guide you through the legal process of your separation, or any agreement you may wish to enter into all for a set price. This is not a processed, tick-box service where you are left without that level of personal support which you need at this difficult time, but is personal and tailored to your individual circumstances.

For more information

For more information about how we can help you contact us on 0115 986 3636 or email us at help@richardnelsonllp.co.uk

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