Family and Matrimonial Timescales & Fees

Family/Matrimonial Department Costs

 Our advice is tailored to each client’s individual circumstances and it is not always possible to provide a fixed fee basis as we do not provide a conveyor belt type service. We will provide an estimated range using our knowledge and experience at the outset.  We also provide updates and, if necessary, amended estimates throughout.

Rates of charges

Our charges in this Department are based upon the time spent on your matter, whether spent speaking to you or other people on the telephone, writing letters and dictating file notes, travelling to and attending meetings with you and/or other people and any other actions that need to be taken in order to act on your behalf.

The hourly rates for the fee earners in the Family Law Department are currently as follows:

 Associate Solicitor£210.00 + VAT
Assistant Solicitor£170.00 + VAT
  Trainees and paralegals£100.00 + VAT

 

The charges set out below are estimated using an associate solicitor’s hourly rate.

FIXED FEES

Divorce and breakdown of civil partnership proceedings:

£700 plus VAT and the current court fee if you are the petitioner where a divorce proceeds on an undefended basis. This involves taking instructions to prepare the Petition, filing the Petition and associated papers, receiving an Acknowledgement of Service and preparing the Statement supporting the Petition and application for Decree Nisi and thereafter application for Decree Absolute.

£150 plus VAT if you are the respondent where a divorce proceeds on an undefended basis. This includes advising on the divorce procedure and completing an Acknowledgement of Service.

Timescale:  The divorce proceedings themselves can be completed within five months (depending upon how others react).    See below re timescale for financial matters

Change of name Deed

£150 plus VAT. This includes taking instructions, drafting the necessary Deed, arranging completion and provision of three certified copies.

ESTIMATED RANGES IN RELATION TO OTHER MATTERS

It is difficult to estimate the total amount of your costs in advance simply because so much depends upon the way in which others react and the detail of your case. In all of the types of case referred to below circumstances may change, and these estimates will no longer apply.  We will keep you regularly updated in relation to costs and revise our estimate where necessary.

Financial arrangements on divorce or the breakdown of civil partnership

Where the value of assets is relatively straight forward:-

  • If an agreement is reached before the case proceeds to an initial Hearing £2,800.00 – £4,000.00 plus VAT in addition to the Divorce costs mentioned above. If mediation is used and is successful or an agreement has been reached between you in another way the costs are likely to be at the lower end of this scale and maybe less.
  • If an agreement cannot be negotiated and your matter proceeds to the initial Court Hearing £3,000.00 – £8,000.00 plus VAT and Court fees in addition to the Divorce costs mentioned above.In all cases, this will involve taking regular instructions, ensuring comprehensive mutual financial disclosure, negotiating and drafting Court documents and obtaining a final order.

Timescale

We usually advise people not to obtain the Decree Absolute until they have received full advice about the impact of this on financial matters and preferably have reached a financial settlement. Again, depending upon how negotiations proceed this may be a matter of months but could also extend to a couple of years.

Children

  • If an agreement is reached before court proceedings are commenced up to £1,500.00 plus VAT. If there is a quick and co-operative response from the other person then this could be as little as £500 plus VAT. If mediation is used and is successful the costs are likely to be in the region of £500 – £1,000.00 plus VAT.
  • If an agreement cannot be negotiated and your matter proceeds to the initial Court Hearing then costs up to and including the First Hearing to be in the region of £2,500 – £4,500 plus VAT.
  • If a settlement is not reached at the First Hearing then costs will escalate and, depending on the work required and number of hearings could easily reach up to £18,000.00. Typically after initial instructions, there would be advice and correspondence in an attempt to reach agreement. The Court application would be prepared, submitted and the first hearing attended with the client. Thereafter there would be at least one and possibly three further hearings, with preparation in respect of each and (in many cases) instructing a barrister, preparing Court Bundles of documents and witness statements, and representation and advocacy at the hearings.

Timescale

If it is possible to discuss matters and agree proposals quickly then matters should be resolved in a couple of months. If there are Court proceedings then it may take up to a year (and on occasions longer than this).

Nuptial Agreements and Cohabitation Agreements

Assuming that the matter proceeds in a co-operative manner and assets are relatively straightforward then between £1000 – £2500 plus VAT, this would include taking instructions, advising on the content of such agreements, negotiating those terms, finalising agreement and completing the documentation.

Timescale

Depending upon time taken by yourself and your partner an Agreement could be completed within a month.

Finances on the Breakdown of a cohabitation relationship

This is the most difficult area to provide an estimate because there may be several areas of law to consider and potentially different court proceedings depending on which route is best in your particular circumstances. The main ones being:

  • In certain circumstances a claim under property law where there is a house or other property owned by one or both of you
  • Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 where the needs of a child/children need to be considered

Generally speaking however:

  • If an agreement is reached before court proceedings are commenced then £2,000.00 – £3,500.00 plus VAT. If negotiations are swift or mediation is used and is successful the costs are likely to be at the lower end of this scale and maybe less.
  • If an agreement cannot be negotiated and court proceedings are commenced then costs will quickly increase and will also depend on what sort of proceedings are taken. Therefore only a rough estimate of up to £8,000.00 plus VAT and Court fees up to and including the first hearing can be given at this stage. 
  • It is very difficult to be exact with a timescale in this sort of matter because very much depends upon how other people react and what area of the law is to be used but if matters can be resolved by agreement then we estimate up to six months but if Court proceedings are necessary then these may extend to more than a year.

Timescale

  • The work can include taking initial instructions giving firm advice, investigating preliminary documents and taking witness statements, submitting Court documentation and thereafter attending a first hearing with all future hearings managed by the Court complying fully with Court directions and attending probably two further hearings before a Final Hearing or a Final Mediation.

Method of payment

We will send you regular interim accounts, usually on a bi-monthly basis, although we may send you accounts more frequently if a substantial amount of work has been done on your case.   This system of billing makes sure that you are aware of the costs you are incurring as your case progresses.

If you wish to discuss setting up a monthly instalment plan we will be pleased to work out a suitable monthly payment with you and any other proposals you may have that will help spread the costs in a way more suitable for you.

Legal aid/public funding

Over the last few years Public Funding has become very limited. It is generally not available to help you through a divorce and sorting out financial elements of a separation whether married or not.  This is the case even where you have very limited assets and income.  There are exceptions to this rule such as where there has been domestic abuse or the safety of a child is at issue.

Publically funded legal advice on mediation and family mediation itself is available if you are financially eligible without having to prove any further reason

We do not participate in the scheme and we are, therefore, only able to act for you if you instruct us on a private basis.   It is important to point out that the legal aid hourly rate would be lower than our private hourly rate as well.

To speak to one of our experts please call us on 01749 836100 or Ask us a question



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