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Case study: Jessica’s story
Full-time mum secures maintenance and legal funding while awaiting the outcome of complex financial settlement case
Jessica and Tim had two children. Tim worked in the family business while Jessica looked after their home and children full-time. When they separated after 15 years of marriage, things quickly got difficult. Although Jessica had always had access to whatever funds she needed when she and Tim were together, Tim became very awkward and stopped various direct debits for the household bills, cut back support for the children to the bare minimum and cut off Jessica’s access to the family credit cards.
How we could help
Tim’s family ran a successful business and he and Jessica had enjoyed an excellent standard of living. When Jessica came to see us we were able to advise her that in the long-term, she would receive a favourable divorce settlement that would enable her to set up home, have some pension for future security, and receive maintenance while she made the transition towards financial self-sufficiency, particularly once she was able to take on more paid work as the children grew older.
However, in the short-term, Jessica did not have enough money to meet the basic household expenses or pay legal fees. There had been no issues of domestic abuse between Tim and Jessica, meaning that there was no possibility of her qualifying for legal aid. Jessica had had to borrow money from her parents, who were not very well off, in order to get any kind of legal advice at all.
We advised Jessica that in the absence of a reasonable proposal from Tim, which was not forthcoming as time passed, she should apply for a legal services payment order and maintenance pending suit.
A legal services payment order is where an application is made to the court for an order that one party to a marriage or civil partnership provide the other with funds in order to pay their legal fees, whether as a lump sum or a monthly amount. In order to make this application, we had to put together a detailed estimate of how much Jessica would be likely to need to fund her case up to the financial dispute resolution stage and explain the reasons why other sources of funding, such as a litigation loan, were not open to her.
At the same time we made an application for maintenance pending suit, which is a form of maintenance put in place before the final financial settlement to “keep the ship afloat” in the interim. We put together a statement explaining Jessica and the household’s basic needs and the efforts we had undertaken on Jessica’s behalf to get Tim to agree some form of interim provision without the need to apply to the court.
It took a few months for Jessica’s case to be dealt with by a judge. During this time, she found herself owing money to various different people in order to pay the bills. Tim’s lawyers did attempt some further negotiations before the start of the contested hearing but we advised Jessica that what was on offer fell a long way short of what she needed and what she ought to get from the judge.
Having heard detailed arguments from both parties’ legal representatives, the judge concluded that Jessica was indeed entitled to both a legal services payment order and maintenance pending suit. She also ordered that Tim should pay her legal fees associated with making the applications. Jessica was relieved that Tim was no longer able to put undue financial pressure on her and that she would be able to continue to receive legal advice and representation while the divorce was ongoing.
In the end…
A few months after the court hearing, Jessica and Tim, through their lawyers, were able to reach an overall settlement dealing with all the financial aspects of the divorce. This was not an easy process and there were some very difficult moments but we were able to help Jessica get a settlement that provided her with peace of mind, knowing that she and the children would be financially secure and that enabled Jessica to achieve a fair share of the family’s resources.
Further advice and information
If you are going through a divorce or civil partnership dissolution and need advice about sorting out a financial settlement, getting legal funding or dealing with the interim financial position, get in touch for an informal discussion with one of our solicitors. [Insert standard link to phone number and contact form]
All of our case studies here are based on real life clients and their experiences. However, due to the sensitive nature of the work we do, all names and some factual details have been amended to protect the privacy of our clients.