Everyone knows that using a solicitor to get a divorce or give you advice on arrangements for your children is expensive, but is there anything you can do to keep your costs down?
The simple answer is YES. Here’s our quick guide to keeping Family Law costs down.
1 - Fixed Fees
If possible, instruct your solicitor on a fixed fee basis. This is where a solicitor charges you a set price for a piece of work. It means you know exactly what the cost will be and you don’t have to worry about how many phone calls, emails or letters are being made on your file.
Fixed fees aren’t always available, in which case you are likely to be charged on an hourly rate basis, which means your solicitor will keep a careful log of how long they spend doing things like drafting documents, meeting with you, making telephone calls or reading paperwork on your file. A solicitor can’t predict exactly how long they will spend working on your file, but they should give you an estimate of your costs at the outset. They will usually bill you each month for any work they have done.
You could also check whether you are charged for speaking to a secretary or paralegal. If not, then you could call the secretary to pass any information on to them, rather than having a chargeable phone call with the solicitor, simply to pass on basic information. Remember though, secretaries are not legally qualified and may not be able to answer your questions, in which case they may have to transfer you to the solicitor.
2. Respond Promptly
Another way to keep your costs down is to respond promptly to your solicitor. If they have to chase you, you will be charged. For example, if your solicitor writes to you asking you to send them your bank statements, they will usually give you two weeks to get those statements sent to them. If, after two weeks, you haven’t sent them, your solicitor may chase you by letter, email or telephone. You will be charged for that work. The best thing to do is to keep your solicitor updated with what is going on, so if your bank says it will take 4 weeks to get the statements to you, pass that information on to your solicitor so they can adjust their diary notes accordingly.
3. Be Amicable
The very best way of keeping legal costs down is to avoid lots of aggressive letters being sent backwards and forwards. Tit-for-tat correspondence gets you nowhere and is a waste of energy, not to mention it is the easiest way of being landed with a large bill! You don’t have to be best friends with your ex, but if you treat each other with respect and give each other the benefit of the doubt, you will find that matters progress much quicker and your costs will be lower.