A major consideration when taking the step to see a Family Law Solicitor is “how am I going to pay for it?”
First of all you may be eligible for Public Funding (formerly known as legal aid). If you are in receipt of benefits or a low income then you should contact a Solicitor who advertises Public Funding and arrange to be assessed.
If you are not eligible and you just want initial advice regarding your options then you may want to enquire as to whether the Solicitor offers a fixed fee appointment. It is rare for Solicitors to offer free appointments but some offer a low fixed fee (sometimes for a specified amount of time) to discuss your problem.
Once you have seen a Solicitor they will tell you their hourly rate (it is also rare for Family Law Solicitors to offer a fixed price for dealing with the whole of your matter unlike preparing a Will or dealing with your house sale, as every matter differs) and they will also be able to estimate the likely cost of the matter.
It is usual for Solicitors to ask you to pay a certain amount on account which will include any likely fees which they will have to pay at the beginning (such as Court fees).
Most Solicitors will ask you to pay as you go along and may send you invoices every month or bi- monthly. It may be sensible to set up a standing order to your Solicitor to pay a certain amount on account weekly or monthly. This will help you budget and may significantly reduce the amount you have to pay once you receive an invoice.Within Divorce proceedings you may ask the Court to make an Order that the other party pays your costs when the Decree Nisi is granted although you need to consider carefully whether this will be sensible particularly if you wish to stay on good terms with your ex-spouse.In certain other Court proceedings it is possible for the Court to make an Order that the other person pay your costs but this is fairly rare and should not be relied upon.From a cash flow point of view it is very rare for Solicitors to be able to defer all payment until the end of your matter. This only usually happens if you are very near to a final resolution of your matter and you will definitely receive some money from the other party or from the imminent sale of assets. You should discuss this with your Solicitor to see if it is possible.
Very often at the end of your matter you will receive some kind of capital settlement such as a share of the proceeds of sale of a property, a cash payment from your ex-partner, the proceeds of an endowment policy, ISA...You will have to consider whether you can borrow money in the short term to fund your matter knowing that it will be repaid at the end from one of these sources of capital. Have you relatives or friends who would offer you a temporary loan? Do you have any policies which you could cash in ? Could you raise a small loan or borrow the money on a credit card for the short term?Obviously you will need to ensure that you can afford to do this and it does not cause you financial problems. You should also take financial advice from a qualified professional before you cash in policies or borrow money.You may also be able to persuade your ex-partner to agree to cash in a jointly held policy and share the proceeds now so that you can both pay your legal costs. Again you should seek advice before you do so.If you are able to do any of these things it will enable you to continue to be represented and bring your matter to a successful conclusion.