As the legal community and the general public come to terms with the recent changes to Legal Aid
and the shift towards mediation for matters involving children and finance matters on divorce and separation, a new provision has been introduced that offers a ray hope.
This new provision offers powers for the court to order one party to make a payment to fund the other party’s lawyers.
The court will have the power to order one party to a marriage to pay to the other (the applicant) an amount for the purposes of enabling that party to pay for legal advice and assistance.
These orders – which have been dubbed ‘legal services payment orders – can be made:
- in divorce, nullity or judicial separation proceedings to enable the applicant to pay for legal advice or
- for proceedings for financial relief in connection with divorce, nullity or judicial separation.
How does it work?
The new order may be for a single amount to be paid by the respondent to the applicant or in instalments that will need to be secured. The order can be obtained to cover legal services for all or part of the proceedings or to provide advice as to how law applies to the particular circumstances. The payment can also be sought to cover all or part of the costs in relation to the settlement or other resolution of the dispute. This would include processes such as family mediation, arbitration or collaborative law.
The order can also be sought in relation to legal advice regarding the enforcement of decisions within the proceedings or as part of the settlement or resolution of the dispute.
How does the court make its decision?
There a checklist of factors that need to be considered when applying for this type of order including income, earning capacity, property, assets, financial needs and obligations, the subject matter of the proceedings and whether the applicant has taken steps to avoid all or part of the proceedings by proposing or considering mediation etc.
An applicant will also be required to demonstrate that they have explored all other means of funding, without success, before the order is sought.
For more information about this type of order or any other family law matter, give us a call on 01392 421777 and arrange a free ½ hour appointment with one of our family law specialists.