It also takes into account how you had reasonably managed your available financial resources and ability to handle them to meet your life requirements. Sometimes, your eligibility for legal aid may not be measured on the fact that you are employed or not. In such case, you may not be successful in obtaining full legal aid to meet your legal expenses but you may get at least a proportion of your costs for pursuing with your family court case.
Alternative Dispute Resolution including mediation process can be useful in controlling legal and related costs. The courts have encouraged parties to attempt Alternative Dispute Resolution process before any application for relief is made to court.
In some instances it may be a difficult to achieve positive response from the other party due to lack of proper understanding between the parties and also in cases of domestic violence. If you are unable to get the legal aid for your matter at court, you may at least be eligible for such support for ADR and mediation process in a family dispute.
In case if you fail to meet the eligibility conditions for legal aid you may have to prepare yourself to fund your legal expenses to initiate the proceedings. Apart from approaching financial institutions for assistance you can also explore possibilities of contingency fee agreement with your solicitor. The solicitors may offer some flexibility in respect of their legal fees. In financial matters involving matrimonial and shared assets in a family case the solicitors representing can agree to for a ‘Sears-Tooth’ arrangement where party agrees to pay from the sums awarded. This is practical only if the lawyer representing you finds the case to be potentially inclined in your favour and have good prospects of successful outcome. This arrangement is not possible in matters of child custody or involving children issues.
A recent amendment of Sec. 222A Matrimonial Clauses Act, 1973 in the year 2013 has enabled the courts to pass Legal Services Order for one party to bear all or proportion of the estimated legal expenses also for other party on initiation of the legal proceedings. This sort of direction would assist the party who is financially weak and is unable to meet his legal expenses in pursuing the matter. However, such orders will only be passed after careful assessment of the financial position of the effected party as a last option, after the later party has exhausted all the opportunities of securing legal aid. This kind of direction by the court is very rare, and it is tough to foresee how frequently they can be passed. These kind of rare orders are possible only among elite class people, family matters having high value matrimonial assets with only one party of them controlling them and other party that is in a financially vulnerable position.
If you are unable to retain a solicitor on a full-time basis for your case you can opt for a legal professional on a pay as you go basis. The lawyer can assist you in preparing case and document management, case filing and other ancillary work including drafting correspondences in respect of your case. A barrister or a solicitor can be instructed to represent you before the court at the final hearing. You can approach a solicitor to review your case to advice you on budgeting aspect of your case. A decent solicitor may be able to guide on the aspects and stages in which you may require a lawyer’s assistance to prepare the case documentation or represent on your behalf at the court. There may be different situations and circumstances for each particular case and some cases need not be vigorously contested and mere presence in the proceedings and oral submissions or answering the queries of the adjudicator may suffice. Discuss with the lawyer what you are looking to engage them for, in your case to find out ways to plan your case according to your budget. Each family case and the parties’ circumstances are distinct from each other and may require different approach in handling the matter. The legal procedures, documentation and process may also vary in each matter and you have to keep your finances intact for important stages like trial and final hearing of the matter where a specialist solicitor or barrister can be engaged.
You must ensure that you fully understand the extent of assistance required from your lawyer in pursuing your matter. You can avoid frequent appointments with your lawyer which may other will run into your legal bills. It will also be prudent to speak to your solicitors about capping your costs and reviewing your case for further course of action at agreed regular intervals.
A lawyer can assist you in your matter on as you require basis at particular stages of your case. In such circumstances, a lawyer will not able to advice you extensively on your case as they are only concerned about the proceedings of the day in respect of the subject matter. There can be no better alternative than for engaging a solicitor to work with you on your case on a full-time basis to prepare your case appropriately and build up precise strategy for a successful outcome in the matter. A retained solicitor on your instructions can correspond with other side with a mutually beneficial settlement proposal to avoid lengthy legal proceedings to be pursued in the court of law. It is important to appraise your lawyer about expected and or nearest point of outcome of the settlement. If your assumptions are not realistic then there is no point for your lawyer to be involved in such negotiations. A solicitor may also help you in evaluating the case practically for you to understand your position in the case. The settlement proposal made by your lawyer may not be accepted by the other party in the first instance but your lawyer can effectively roll out further best settlement proposal to compel the other side to consent for a settlement of the matter.
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