Divorce to get more expensive
Filed under: Your Rights
That's because from next April, large chunks of family law advice will no longer attract legal aid. The government is snipping £350m from the £2.2bn legal scheme. Could you be hit?
Family law practitioner Lisa Pepper from legal firm Osbornes told AOL Money that those affected will be primarily the stay-at-home carer. "It's predominantly women," says Pepper, "but with more and more cases the man is the primary carer. It's not always the woman. Buy anyone in that situation is unlikely to afford lawyers."
Access to Justice?
The issue of who is entitled to what is particularly convoluted and stressful when the main bread winner has their own company, she warns. "How on earth can the avenge person get to grips with management accounts, balance sheets ,dividends and identify if money can be taken out of the company? Or know if income has been parked, not drawn until the case is over?"
"That's very common. A lot of small businesses are doing very well despite the recession." So lots of hoops to jump through. There's another category of person who will be particularly hard hit by the changes.
Fixed feesThat's the unmarried women with no matrimonial assets. "She might have a baby," explains Pepper, "with a man who's very wealthy but has no income themselves and be currently entitled to help." But not from next April.
Although the demand for legal aid is there, this area is increasingly unattractive to many lawyers themselves, given the modest fees and significant amounts of bureaucracy involved.
However, all's not lost. Larger organisations are attempting to move into this area offering fixed-fee tariffs for those on a tight budget. One of those players is Co-operative legal services. Pepper herself says her own fees are modest.
"I am paid £21+ Vat by a privately paying client to prepare a letter. On legal aid rates it's about £4. It's practically pro-bono already."
If you think you might be exposed here, you might want to take advice - soon. Or at least, before the changes come in a year from now. And like we suggested near the start of the article, the issue is one some stay-at-home males may also need to get their head around.
Access to justice is going to get, very likely, more expensive for all. Especially for the poorer partner.