How to Fund Your Family Law Matter
Funding Your Family Law Matter
The breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship can be one of the most stressful and emotionally difficult time for Argent Law’s family law clients. Added to this can be the financial strain of separating the assets of both partners to the relationship and the costs associated with the transition to a single income household and the costs of employing lawyers to assist the parties with negotiating their parenting or property matters.
Many law firms simply will not represent you if they don’t either receive a large upfront amount or get paid regularly throughout the course of your matter – in some circumstances this is completely fine, however, if you are not in a financial position to do this Argent Law offer their family law clients several options when it comes to legal fees.
In many circumstances, Argent Law will consider other fee funding arrangements and even a payment on settlement agreement – this ensures that clients can have access to excellent legal representation even if they don’t immediately have to hand the funds they need to pay legal fees.
In many circumstances, the distribution of access to funds is uneven between the parties to family law property disputes. In those circumstances, you can consider a range of options, such as:
An interim distribution of their property settlement; and/or
Spousal maintenance; and/or
An Interim Distribution Of a Property Settlement
It is often the case that the parties to a family law property dispute have property to be divided between them when the property settlement is resolved, but until then, a party may not have available to them the funds to live on, to pay their legal fees and other expenses – or even more simply – to move on with their lives, such as by putting a deposit on a new home, or buying a new vehicle.
The law in Australia recognises that the process of negotiating a property settlement or going through the Court system, can be lengthy, and parties can feel like their lives are in limbo until they get their settlement. As such, the law provides for the early distribution of funds or property to a party (by agreement or Court Order) as an “advance” on their property settlement. In legal terms, this is known as an “interim property distribution”.
The interim property distribution is then utilised for living fees and legal fees such as payment of barristers and payment of valuations.
Under the law in Australia, it is not presumed that after separation, one party will support the other party. Generally, separated parents are responsible only to maintain their dependent children, as assessed by the Child Support Agency, as agreed between the parents, or as ordered by the Court.
However, the Court has the power to make an Order for the payment of spousal maintenance (or parties can agree to the payment of spousal maintenance) in circumstances where one party has a need to be paid spousal maintenance, and the other party has the ability to pay spousal maintenance.
So if you are struggling to make ends meet after the end of your relationship, and/or you’re experiencing a reduced lifestyle after separation, spousal maintenance may be something you should be considering.
If a family law property dispute is before the Court – or needs to be brought to the Court – the Court has the power to order that one party pay the other’s costs of their legal representation in the proceedings. This is known as an order for litigation funding.
An Application can be made to the Court for litigation funding where only one party to the marriage or de facto relationship has control of the financial resources of the parties (such as bank accounts, businesses or trusts) and thereby an imbalance in the parties’ access to legal representation and the Court system results. The financially weaker, or disadvantaged party, may then make an Application to the Court for litigation funding.
If the Court is satisfied that such a disparity exists, the stronger party has the ability to pay their own legal costs, and there are available funds (or resources that can be converted to funds) to pay both parties’ legal costs – the Court may make an Order for Litigation funding in favour of the disadvantaged party.
If you are in weaker financial position than your spouse or former de facto partner, litigation funding may be an option for you.
Please call Stephanie Hope (Senior Associate) or Melissa Patterson (Director) for a confidential discussion about funding your family law matter.