Resolving disputes in relation to financial mattes can be extremely expensive. Ordinarily your solicitor will advise you as to the best method to use to try and achieve resolution. You may be advised to consider mediation, the collaborative process, the court, negotiated round table meetings or the Milton Keynes fast track procedure or Family Law Arbitration For more information on all these different methods of trying to resolve financial matters please ask for one of our fact sheets.
a. ) Mediation
Mediation is a process available to parties who want to resolve any issue arising from the breakdown of their relationship. It is not counselling or a way to help a couple get back together. If you chose this route you will initially meet with the mediator alone for an intake session and thereafter all meetings will be with you, your partner and the mediator. The mediator is there as an impartial unbiased expert. He or she cannot, however, give legal advice. Most people who go through mediation also each use a lawyer to take advice during the process and to make sure that their agreements are fair and legally binding. We are able to offer mediation at Hawkins Family Law. Our charges are at the hourly rate of your chosen solicitor and normally the cost is split equally between the couple, but this can vary depending on the couple concerned. It is very difficult to determine how many sessions would be required, but we would recommend that you work on the premise that there will be between four and eight sessions of an hour and a half to two hours each. In addition we would recommend that each party retains a solicitor to provide legal advice and obviously there will be costs associated in that regard.
b. ) Collaborative Law
Collaborative Law lets you talk through issues you need to resolve with you and your former partner each having a specially trained lawyer at your side. The majority of collaborative work is carried out by way of four way meetings. When you enter the collaborative law process you will be asked to confirm that you will endeavour to resolve the problems without going to court and everybody will sign an agreement to that effect. Most collaborative four way meetings last between an hour and a half and two hours. There is a certain amount of work which is required to be carried out in between four way meetings for example preparation of financial disclosure documentation and our best estimate is that there are normally between four and six collaborative meetings but it does very much depend on your circumstances. We would estimate therefore that each party’s costs in connection with resolving financial or children issues using the collaborative process would be in the region of £4,000 – £6,000 plus VAT and disbursements.
c. ) Family Arbitration
Jo Hawkins is a fully trained family arbitrator. Family arbitration is an alternative way of reaching a conclusion about your finances or property if your relationship comes to an end. The Arbitrator essentially carries out the role of the judge. Like a judge, the arbitrator will make sure that all the relevant facts are gathered and will obtain evidence from you and your partner. He or she will then give a binding ruling, known as an award. The arbitrator cannot deal with the divorce itself or children matters.
d. ) Solicitor Negotiations
Often clients wish to try and negotiate a settlement between solicitors without issuing court proceedings. This process can be protracted depending upon the speed at which financial disclosure is produced by both parties and any questions are responded to. Your solicitor will advise you whether or not the process should be pursued after a certain period of time, or whether in fact court proceedings should be issued. From a cost perspective you should budget for no less than £5000 plus VAT and disbursements on a relatively straightforward matter. If there are complex issues in relation to shares, companies, trusts, offshore assets etc then these costs will increase. Please discuss this with your legal advisor.
e. ) Fast Track
In Milton Keynes the local solicitors have set up an alternative basis for clients to try and resolve issues in relation to finances. It is known as the fast track. The premise is that each party will have their own independent solicitor and that the solicitors and clients will meet for a series of round table meetings to try and resolve matters. If that does not result in a conclusion then we have the support of the local judges at Milton Keynes County Court to proceed straight to a financial dispute resolution (FDR) hearing thereby leapfrogging the first direction appointment and thereby trying to keep costs to a minimum. The Fast Track process does require all parties to provide prompt and comprehensive disclosure of any financial matters and deal with any questions raised speedily. In terms of costs we would estimate that your costs in advance of any court proceedings would be in the region of no less than £5,000 plus VAT and disbursements.
f. ) Financial Proceedings Issued in Court
If financial proceedings are issued in Court, then there are three distinct phases:
i. ) First Directions Appointment.
This is a housekeeping appointment. You should be aware that the timetable in relation to court issued financial resolution is governed by the Court. The first directions appointment comes after each party has made full and frank financial disclosure through Form E. As an estimate, we would suggest that your costs would be in the region of £5,000 – 7,000 plus VAT and the costs of any expert evidence required such as accountancy evidence, pensions evidence and barristers. There may also be other additional disbursements. If the matter does not settle you will then progress to the next hearing.
ii. ) Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing
We would estimate that your costs will up to and including the financial dispute resolution hearing will be in the region of £7,000 – £10,000 plus VAT.
iii. ) Final Hearing
If matters still do not resolve and there is a requirement for a final hearing then we would estimate an additional £10,000 – £25,000 plus VAT or more depending on the complexity of the case. Please be aware that very few cases go to final hearing. We would hope, therefore, not proceed this far. We cannot obviously guarantee that this will be the case.
Please note that all the estimates given above are estimates only and are all plus VAT and plus the costs of any additional items such as accountancy evidence, barristers evidence, pensions reports etc.
The final charge will very much depend on how your case progresses, the level and extent of documentation and complexity, the urgency which is required by you and cooperation of the other party.
We would suggest in financial or children matters that you budget for at least five to ten hours work per month at your solicitors current fee rate although as you appreciate your monthly costs may be significantly higher than this. The above cost estimates are approximate only and are based on average cases and are for our legal fees only. It is likely that there will be additional costs such as court fees, barristers fees and other expert fees. We will discuss these costs with you on an ongoing basis.
We will always try to give you a best estimate of the likely cost of your case and we will review this on a regular basis. Please be advised that this is only a best estimate. We are not able to provide quotes and given the nature of the work it is impossible to predict precisely what costs will be incurred. We will also advise you as to the cost benefit of pursuing a matter if we believe that it will be cost prohibitive to do so.
We will endeavour to provide you with an update as to our best estimated costs on at least a 6 monthly basis and in any event will render invoices on at least a by monthly basis and usually a monthly basis so that you can have as much information as possible in relation to the cost position. You should also be aware that the cost estimate given may be exceeded depending on your particular circumstances and further that in the event that you do not settle any outstanding invoice we reserve the right to cease acting on your behalf.