It goes without saying that family court proceedings can be expensive. Obviously, this can put a less well-off party at a serious disadvantage, with their opponent being able to afford to pay for legal representation, while they cannot.
Legal aid is not available for most types of family law cases, and many people have no other way of funding their legal expenses. What can they do to put themselves on an equal footing?
There may be another source of funding, and it comes from an unexpected direction: the other party. It is possible to ask the court to order the other party to pay a lump sum to cover your legal costs of the proceedings.
We have seen this happen in two recent cases.
The first case concerned a husband’s application for a financial remedies order on divorce. The wife was considerably better off than the husband, who could not afford legal representation. He therefore applied to the court for a legal services payment order, requiring the wife to pay a lump sum to cover his legal expenses. The court made an order that the wife pay the sum of £95,000, to include £58,000 costs already incurred by the husband.
The second case concerned a mother’s application for financial provision for her daughter from the child’s father. The father was considerably better off than the mother, and could not afford legal representation. She therefore applied for a legal costs funding order, requiring the father to pay a lump sum to cover her legal expenses. The court made an order that the father pay the sum of £60,000.
But a word of caution: these costs orders are quite unusual, and will only be made in certain circumstances. In particular, the party applying for the order must satisfy the court that they have no other means of financing the case, and that the order will not cause the paying party undue hardship.
The party applying for the order must also bear in mind that at the end of the case the court may require them to repay such part of the payment as it considers appropriate.
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If you would like to know whether you could apply for a legal costs funding order we can find an expert to advise you, working with you on our digital platform. For more information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.
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