When a relationship breaks down the last thing on anyone’s mind is the cost of legal advice. However, choosing the right advice at the right cost is imperative to ensure that ‘life’ going forward is made as comfortable as possible. Provided some simple guidelines are followed I think it is possible to obtain maximum benefit for money spent.
It is sometimes difficult to anticipate from the outset exactly what amount of work is likely to be involved in a family law cases. No two matters are the same and the work that is necessary is often made more complicated by emotions or actions of one or other party. For this reason at my firm, Jarvis Family Law LLP, we always talk about the client’s budget at the outset of a matter and provide a clear indication of likely costs. All solicitors should be willing to provide a clear breakdown of how charges have arisen and monthly payment is very useful to identify how costs are accruing and to keep on top of the cost, rather than receiving one large “impossible” bill at the end of the case.
For initial advice, usually to find out your rights, options and the likely outcome in your own unique circumstances, I do not make a charge for the initial meeting and there is no obligation to instruct me. Some firms operate a fixed ‘clinic’ in the week when such “free” appointments are available whilst others offer these as a 30 minute telephone appointment. I find that this meeting proves to be invaluable to the client and if carried out by an experienced solicitor should provide an opportunity to answer most questions, explain the legal procedure and together to consider options for moving forward.
Thought might be given to whether full legal representation is needed from a solicitor. Some actions might be undertaken with the solicitor in the “background” as consultant. I often work with clients who wish to handle much of the paperwork and negotiation with an occasional appointment with myself in order to provide some basic advice. If full legal representation is necessary costs can be minimised by ensuring that all information, documentation and details of concerns or desires are available at the outset or when required.
Costs are often incurred because parties feel too traumatised to “do the leg work” collecting together their facts and figures. When parties are too upset to deal with matters it might be that a third party friend or family member can assist or attend meetings to take notes.
However costs are approached for family law advice, the overriding point must be that the solicitor/client relationship should be one where if a cost query arises it can be discussed openly and honestly. Your solicitor must be working ‘with’ you and not just ‘for’ you!
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