Further to some of our recent blog posts highlighting the cost of divorce and changes to Legal Aid, we read with interest this letter written by Christina Blacklaws, Director of Family Law at the Co-operative Legal Services, which was published in the Financial Times on 28 April:
“Sir, I read with great interest Emma Jacobs’ article on divorce lawyer Camilla Baldwin and the reference to her hourly fee of £450 and the typical cost of a divorce being £30,000.
“With the average income being just over £25,000, of course, these costs are widely out of reach for most working people. In addition, the recent Legal Aid changes mean almost no one is now able to get help with the cost of a divorce. The article serves as a warning to families about spiralling costs when going through a divorce.
“The Co-operative Legal Services recently launched a Stop the Clock campaign to encourage lawyers to put an end to the uncertainty of charging by the hour.
“Divorce is one of the most stressful situations a person can face, and having been a divorce specialist for more than 25 years I believe we have a responsibility to give people complete clarity about their costs and help them make the right decisions for their family’s future.
“A move to fixed fee pricing will give people certainty and avoid bills that come as a shock at the end. We need to cut dramatically the number of people (currently one in five) that don’t feel able to query what their solicitor is charging them, for fear of incurring exorbitant fees.
“Anyone facing a divorce has options with their legal fees; itdoesn’thave to be this way. Readers should ensure they ask as many questions as they need to understand their legal costs. This will at least give them some control back over a situation that is, by itself, tough enough to face.”