So how much is all of this going to cost me?
The above represents one of the most difficult questions that a family lawyer will have to deal with during that first meeting with their client.
Divorce proceedings and indeed any associated proceedings which may follow, for example applications for Financial Relief or applications under the Children Act are all borne out of a set of unique circumstances so it’s near impossible to provide an accurate figure for what the total cost of the proceedings will be.
Every aspect of the case whether it be dealing with the division of assets or the ability of the parties to work together to reach a resolution will have a significant impact on the overall cost of settling the case.
Although difficult to predict the exact cost of settling a case it is possible to give clients guidance as to what particular factors of a case can cause an increase in their fees.
Our expert family lawyers at PMC Family Law strive to give our client the best possible cost estimates that we can and provide regular estimates throughout the life of the case.
During the initial meeting with a new client we of course advise them of the costs for issuing the Divorce Petition, which is currently £550. Should it become necessary to make Children Act applications or an application for Financial Relief these will require the payment of a further court issue fee, currently £215 and £255 respectively. We advise our clients that there will be additional charges for filing documents at court such as Consent Orders.
The overall cost of the case will without a doubt be determined by how acrimonious the case is. The issues of dividing capital assets, determining spousal maintenance or agreeing a regime for how the children will divide their time will often require complex negotiations between the parties’ legal representatives which can lead to an increase in legal costs in order to ensure that the settlement that is reached is a fair one.
Should the assistance of experts be required to assist the parties in reaching a settlement then this will cause the overall costs to increase exponentially.
At PMC Family we pride ourselves on our ability to work at an accelerated pace. Should there be delay in reaching a settlement either caused by the Respondents legal team’s lack of response or indeed their client not providing instructions then consequently the legal costs will increase as matters will continually need to be chased.
If a settlement cannot be reached between the parties negotiating between themselves or through their legal teams then the mediation process is an option that for some cases can be a useful tool. Mediation however is not free and each party will need to pay the mediator an hourly rate but this can sometimes be a less expensive route to reaching a settlement if both parties are committed to the process.
In the extreme cases were a settlement cannot be reached though negotiation or mediation the Court route is the only option left. Reaching a settlement through the Court process can be more expensive but again this depends on how acrimonious the case is. For example, in Financial Remedy cases it would often be a possibility to settle cases at the First Court Appointment if both parties provided each other with full and frank financial disclosure; sadly this is not always the case.
Clients going through a Divorce find it is a stressful and emotional time in their lives. The process can cause even the most rational person to act in a way that is out of character for them. At PMC Family Law we advise our clients, from the outset of the case, that it takes clear thinking to get through a divorce and that they should not focus on the minutiae of the case as letters sent or calls made in connection with the same only lead to an increase in costs and these issues often have no real relevance to the big picture of the case.
Unfortunately we cannot control the Respondent or their legal representatives. If Court Orders are not adhered to by the Respondent for example or documents not produced in time this will cause delay for our client which contributes to an increase in their fees. It may be necessary to make separate applications for enforcement of Court Orders or send additional letters/emails to chase matters.
We advise our clients frequently that in order to keep their legal costs to a minimum that both they and the Respondent need to be fully committed to settling the case as cost effectively, expeditiously and amicability as possible. Early settlement of the case will depend on full and frank discourse being provided by both parties in an honest and timely fashion.