by Angela Moores of Jarvis Family Law LLP
When a relationship breaks down the last thing on anyone’s mind is the cost of legal advice. However, provided some simple guidelines are followed 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 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 it is important that cost quotations are frequently reviewed.
All solicitors should be willing to provide a clear breakdown of how charges have arisen. Monthly billing is very useful to identify how costs are accruing rather than receiving one large “surprise” bill at the end of the case.
For initial advice, usually to find out your rights or the likely outcome of any claim, it may be possible to approach a solicitor at little or no charge. Some firms operate a fixed period in the week when such “free” appointments are available whilst others offer these throughout the working day. The appointments are usually for a fixed period, say 30 minutes, which should be sufficient time for an experienced solicitor to provide a good overview of the law pertaining to any situation. In larger, financially complex cases, it may be possible for a first interview to take place at no charge.
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. In another case a collaborative approach to resolving disputes could be adopted where both parties sit together with their representatives thus avoiding streams of letters or delay. If full legal representation is necessary costs can be minimized 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 traumatized 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.
Back to In The Press