Withdrawing cash on credit cards, borrowing from the Bank of Mum and Dad, selling treasured assets: just some of the methods that unhappily married couples are resorting to, to fund their divorces.
Family lawyers at Stephensons Solicitors LLP are reporting an increase in clients seeking out such unconventional ways to pay for their divorce particularly in light of legal aid reforms which removed funding for many – remaining available only for those experiencing domestic abuse or those who need to safeguard a child.
The family law team, which is based in Manchester city centre, explains that some people are so in need of financial assistance to start legal proceedings, they have had to delay their cases for up to a year so that they can save up.
Mike Devlin, managing partner of the family law department at Stephensons, said: “We handle almost 400 divorces each year and nationally, 120,000 divorces took place in 2012. No divorce is the same as each client has their own needs to consider, but a common theme is their struggle to fund their divorce, now that legal aid is no longer an option.
“Traditionally, children would turn to their parents for a deposit for their first home, but now we’re seeing an upturn in those who are asking their parents to help fund a divorce. The removal of legal aid is a major factor in this new trend, which has hit many people in average-income jobs such as teachers, fire-fighters, police workers.”
Stephensons has already listened to the needs of its existing clients and has developed a fixed fee divorce to help people budget for their legal costs. In a further bid to offer more accessible legal advice, the law firm will now be able to offer clients the option to agree a loan through Novitas Family Loans, in addition to the range of other funding methods available, to fund their legal case. The loan is repaid at the end of the legal process from the proceeds of the settlement.
Mike Devlin added: “In many relationships, particularly those which involve children, one partner will be the sole breadwinner while the other forfeits their own income to stay at home and look after the children. But if the marriage comes to an end, the non-earning partner can be financially isolated and may feel unable to seek legal advice for fear of the cost involved. That’s why we’ve also seen an increase in people representing themselves in court. This new funding through Novitas will be particularly helpful for people in this situation with no regular income, yet with sizeable assets, so that when the legal formalities are resolved, their loan will be paid off upon settlement, and they can move forward with their lives.”
- Stephensons is an award-winning law firm providing a range of legal services to individuals and businesses.
- Stephensons has recently been awarded the Family Law Firm of the Year accolade at the Jordan’s Family Law Awards 2014.
Media information: Lianne Tracey
Stephensons Solicitors LLP
Tel: 01616 966 229