As you go through proceedings, it will be necessary to pay your legal fees. Most solicitors will expect you to pay your bills each month. In addition, any expenses your solicitors incur, such as fees for barristers will also have to be paid.
In normal litigation it is common for the losing side to pay the winner’s costs. This does not happen in family law very often, and generally only when one party has litigated in a way which has driven up the other sides costs.
Conditional fees, or “no win, no fee” are not allowed in family law proceedings. This is partly because it is very hard to define who has won, but also because of the fact that whatever is paid comes out of the same pot.
In England and Wales, it is not possible to give your lawyer a share of your settlement as a form of payment. This is because it can cause a conflict of interest between the lawyer and client. Such agreements are known as being champertous and are illegal.
It may be possible to enter into a deferred fee agreement. This is when the solicitor agrees not to collect their fees until your case is finished, effectively lending you the money with it secured against the award you expect to receive. Whether this option is available will depend on your case and your lawyer.
Following the government’s reforms to legal aid in the 2013 Legal Aid and Punishment of Offenders Act, legal aid is generally not available in relation to family law, unless there are allegations of domestic violence.
Vardags are unable to take cases on a publicly funded basis. If you require a legal aid solicitor, you should look at the Law Society Website.
It may be possible to pay your fees by borrowing money. You can contact ordinary commercial lenders, but it may be advantageous to borrow from a specialist litigation lender. These organisations lend money specifically to people going through divorce proceedings, on terms specially tailored to the needs of a case.
Vardags have well established links with a number of litigation funders, and may well be able to assist with securing funding for suitable cases.
As discussed elsewhere, costs orders are very rare in family law cases. It is, however, possible to obtain an order for legal services provision in certain circumstances. This order, sometimes called an LSPO or an A v A order, requires a wealthy party to pay the fees of the less wealthy party. The court can order this when the financially weaker party has no reasonable way of paying legal fees and the other is able to do so. This gives both parties and even playing field in proceedings.