Bristol Family Lawyers launch Fixed Fee Collaborative Divorce

posted 7 Mar 2017, 08:52 by Miles Hendy   [ updated 7 Mar 2017, 08:54 ]
Family lawyers from several Bristol law firms have launched an initiative aimed at bringing certainty to the costs of a Collaborative Divorce. The Fixed Fee Collaborative Divorce means that your lawyers are keen to help you reach a collaborative resolution as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What is the collaborative process?

The collaborative process helps separating and divorcing couples resolve their differences and find solutions to their situations. Discussions are held in four way meetings where you share what is most important to you and what you want to achieve, without the threat of court proceedings. In doing so, the aim is to minimise the emotional and financial cost of separation on you and the family.

You are not alone in the process. You both appoint your own collaboratively-trained lawyers. They will be with you throughout and so you will have their support and legal advice all the way through. 

To show your commitment to working in this way, you all sign what is called a Participation Agreement, which focuses the four of you on resolving the issues within the meetings. This will prevent your lawyers from representing you in court if the collaborative process breaks down. However, the aim of this is to ensure that you remain respectful towards each another, negotiate in good faith and provide full and early disclosure of relevant information. This should help you work towards a positive outcome so that, ultimately, there is no need to defer to the court process.

How does the fixed fee package work and what will we do for you?

For the standard fixed fee package, we are offering two four-way meetings within which your lawyers will aim to help you reach an outcome where possible. At the first meeting your lawyers will make sure that you both understand what you are committing to and you will all sign the Participation Agreement. You will both share why you have chosen the collaborative process and what you hope to achieve from it. With your lawyers you will consider the issues, decide on what can be dealt with immediately, agree on what still needs to be determined and prepare a list of action points for tasks to be carried out in advance of the next meeting.

The issues will vary and depend on your own individual circumstances but might typically include a discussion about your children. You may also go on to discuss how financial information will be shared and agree on who will bring what information to the next meeting.

The second meeting will deal with your particular priorities and concerns to help you find long-term solutions. You might consider involving other professionals such as specialists in pensions and financial planning or people trained to assist children in understanding and coping with the changes that your separation will bring to their lives.

After the final meeting, documents detailing the agreements you have reached will be prepared by your lawyers. They will then be discussed with you before they are signed. Your lawyers will talk you through anything else that needs to be done in order to put your agreement into effect.

How long does the collaborative process take?

This is really up to the both of you as the process will move at your pace. If appropriate, then sometimes only two meetings are needed. In other cases, and depending on the complexities and circumstances, more meetings may be necessary.  Your lawyers will be able to give you guidance on this. 
Advantages and Eligibility

Our aim is to ensure that all our fees are open and transparent. Within our fixed fee information, we clearly indicate what is and isn’t included within the standard package. 

What are the advantages of a fixed fee package?

  • It provides certainty about the costs of the case.
  • You are not charged for the time that it takes to do the work, but at the agreed fixed fee for the relevant stage.
  • The lawyer has the same objective as you; getting the case resolved as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
  • The fees are transparent -  you can see instantly what your costs will be.
  • It allows you to control your costs and purchase as much or as little work as you need.

How do I know if I am eligible for the fixed fee package?

  • You are married or in a civil partnership.
  • You and your spouse/civil partner have combined assets, including pension assets of less than £500,000 (net).
  • You have a gross income, from all sources, of less than £40,000 in your household and your spouse/civil partner earns less, from all sources, than £40,000 (gross).
  • You have no assets outside England and Wales.
  • You have no business interests except if you are a sole trader.
If you have income or assets above these levels, we may still be able to offer you  a tailored fixed fee but this will be at the discretion of the lawyers.

Fixed Fee Costs Schedule

Meetings:    (Costs per person*)

  • 2 four way meetings - £2,500 + vat (£3,000)
  • Additional meetings - £1,000 + vat (£1,200)

Paperwork preparation:    (Costs shared)

  • Divorce proceedings - £350 + vat (£420)
  • Resulting Agreements - £750 + vat (£900)

Court fees:    (Costs shared)

  • Divorce issue - £550
  • Consent Order issue - £50
* Payment of fees will be required within 14 days of the initial four way meeting.

What is not Covered?

Initial meeting between solicitor and client.

3rd party costs including but not limited to work carried out by Conveyancers, Financial Neutrals, Couples and Family Therapists, Child Specialists.

Which Lawyers are Participating?

The following family lawyers are all participating in the initiative;

Alison Dukes - AMD Solicitors
Jim Gridley - Barcan + Kirby
Richard Sharp - Sharp Family Law
Alison Whiles - Barcan + Kirby
Elizabeth Bruce - The Family Law Practice
Sharon Giles - Sharp Family Law
Jo Morris - AMD Solicitor
Chris Miller - Barcan + Kirby
John Pratley - Simpson Millar
Anna Wilson - Barcan + Kirby
Julia Smart - Metcalfes
Clare Webb - Sharp Family Law
Hanni Pennelegion - Barcan + Kirby