Q&A I need a solicitor to handle my divorce, but am worried about how much this will cost particularly now that Legal Aid is no longer available. How can I ensure that I don't end up with a huge bill I can't pay?

Q. I need a solicitor to handle my divorce, but I am worried about how much this will cost, particularly now that Legal Aid is no longer available.  How can I ensure that I don’t end up with a huge bill that I can’t pay?

A. If you are on a very tight budget you may want to consider doing some of the work yourself.  Some firms operate a ‘pay as you go’ system, such as our ‘Support and Advice’ package which can be a good option, particularly if there are no complicated financial or children’s issues to be resolved.  Rather than instructing a lawyer to act on your behalf, you act ‘in person’ – essentially you do the paperwork and administration yourself but you have the support of a family solicitor to give you advice when you need it.

Many solicitors offer fixed fee packages for straightforward cases, so you know in advance exactly what the final costs will be, but again this may not be right for you if your situation is particularly complicated.

If you do decide to go for full representation your solicitor must give you information about the likely costs and how the charge is calculated at the start of your case.  Make sure you know whether it is a fixed cost quote or an estimate and what it covers. Your solicitor must keep you informed about costs throughout and let you know as soon as possible if the costs are likely to go above the initial estimate.

Tim Thompson, partner

*This article was previously printed in The Stamford Mercury