Legal aid has just been drastically slashed by the government, by a whopping total of 350 million pounds. It is now not possible to claim legal aid to fund your divorce. The only cases in which legal aid will now be offered will be in severe situations in which domestic violence is present. Some lawyers are now opting to offer fixed fee divorces to their customers to help them deal with the budgeting issues which are inevitably going to occur for a lot of families who cannot easily afford to pay for legal work to be completed on their behalf. A range of prices are proposed to be offered so that consumers are able to access the type of legal service they want and that they can afford. Figures have been reported from as low as £99 and then up the scale to a top fixed fee figure of £475. Each cost amount will buy you a different level of support and legal involvement in your divorce settlement.
The interesting question here is how to judge the amount that will accurately cover the full settlement of a divorce. Divorces can fluctuate in timescale and in legal workload. Depending on complications divorces can take more or less time than expected and if serious issues come to pass when dealing with financial settlements or custody agreements, the divorce can be drawn out for a large amount of time. Research is intended to deal with this problem – with many hours of work going into estimating how much time specific divorce settlements are projected to take.
Some worries have been put forth that specialists may not be giving all the advice being offered. However, the idea is that if proceedings are set to be complicated and difficult, the fixed fee divorce cost being offered will be a lot higher. The may prevent people being shocked by costs of lawyers for their divorce, feeling they are spending far more than originally intended.
This simply highlights a separate issue which can be dealt with alongside the introduction of fixed fee divorces at some firms. Transparency with legal fees regarding divorces is vital and will give the public the reassurance that they need regarding the cost of their lawyer. Solicitors need to be better at giving a predicted range of possible fees to their clients but arguably this issues does not need to be settled via a bringing in of fixed fee at every firm, but simply by bringing in a better quote giving policy at legal firms.
Finally, the overriding problem here is legal aid cuts as thousands of people will be unable to afford the quality of legal advice that a complicated divorce settlement requires. Fixed price divorces are a good way to help people afford their divorce more easily but the wound to the legal system that has been inflicted by the cuts is not necessarily going to be easy to heal. Fixed fee divorces may deal a blow to the profitability of divorces, and how specialist the legal service offered with them is, at the firms which are offering them. Depending on the firm, specialism levels will differ and you should do your research thoroughly, wherever you are getting a divorce and for whatever cost. The conclusion is then, that only time will tell whether or not fixed fee divorces do work – from both the consumer’s perspective and the legal business’ perspective.
For a highly specialist divorce lawyer, offering transparent fees, contact Roskell Davies. All initial enquiries are free of charge. Simply call 0800 142 2901 or fill in an online enquiry.