Help with legal fees

Can I receive a Court Order to receive help towards my Legal Fees?

Head of the family law team at Cartwright King analyses the “Legal Services Order” which came into force in April 2013.

What is the Legal Services Order?

In divorce, nullity or judicial separation, it is now possible to obtain a Court Order requiring the other person to provide funds so that you can meet your legal fees. The Order is designed to help with the legal costs or resolving the financial issues, and can help assist with the costs of court proceedings, or Mediation.

What does the Court have to consider?

The court needs to consider a certain checklist, which includes the income and capital assets of the other party, as the other person will need to have sufficient available assets, and this will probably not include the potential of that person to take further mortgage borrowing in respect of their home.

It will also consider whether the other party has legal representation that they are paying for. Additionally, it will look at any steps made by you to try to avoid the proceedings, and equally the other person’s conduct, and your conduct in relation to the proceedings.

It is true to say that such an order will not be made if it is likely to cause undue hardship for the other person or prevent them from obtaining legal services themselves.

It will also be necessary for you to show that you have made applications to see if you could obtain borrowing, either by mortgage or other type of loan, even a litigation loan, to assist you.

There are many of these products on the market. It would also be necessary for your solicitors to confirm that they are not prepared to act for you within an arrangement other than receiving funds on a periodic basis. It is likely that this type of Court Application will be accompanied with an application to instigate periodical payments or maintenance to meet other household bills.

How is a Legal Services Order defined?

The order can provide for a single sum of money, or instalments to be paid to you. Quite often, the Court will specify what type of legal services can be incurred or even provide for costs to be limited up to a designated point in time, for example up until the conclusion of a specified court appointment, or conclusion of Mediation.

Please contact our specialist family law team, to discuss this issue, or any other issue of family law or relationship breakdown.

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For further information please get in touch with our dedicated team.

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