The breakdown of a marriage is a very stressful time in a person’s life. There is the grief due to the relationship ending. There is the stress of trying to ensure any children are okay. There is the frustration of having to sort finances and accommodation and so much more.
Clients often describe it as being in a bit of a fog or a very dark place. While every person deals with it differently, and the reasons why the marriage ended can vary greatly, the divorce process for every client seems daunting.
A specialist family law solicitor can help you get through this time. You need someone on your side who understands the law. You need a divorce solicitor that can guide you through the process and get you out the other side.
Your biggest worry, however, could be whether you can afford a family law solicitor.
It can be helpful, therefore, to understand what a divorce solicitor in Ireland might charge you.
What does divorce cost in Ireland?
Firms charge anywhere between €200 and €700 per hour for their legal services. The price will be higher in urban areas like Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. Bigger firms may have a number of fee-earners working on your file including a partner, associate and a paralegal.
If your divorce solicitor is charging you by the hour, you need someone who is very efficient. They must be speedy and accurate. They need to understand your instructions and be able to action them with as few mistakes as possible, so time and money isn’t spent correcting them.
Legal fees come down to the time spent drafting and filing legal documents, writing letters to the other side, phone calls, advising you and representing you at settlement talks or at a court hearing.
As well as this hourly fee, you will often be charged additional fees known as ‘disbursements’ or ‘outlays’. These usually include phone calls, photocopying costs and postage.
The cost of your matter will also depend on how many different things need to be negotiated such as access, maintenance and the family home. Your matter will be cheaper if it settles before going to court.
The relationship you have with your ex-spouse will also be a factor in cost. If two people are at total loggerheads, correspondence will fly between the solicitors and the matter is unlikely to settle before it reaches a hearing.
What you need to consider
A divorce solicitor must give you a letter called a s.150 letter. This letter sets out their charges and what work that will include (or exclude). This should outline who will work on your file, how much their hourly fee is, what work they will do for you and what comes under outlays and disbursements.
Most solicitors will ask for a retainer or a deposit upfront before they start working on your file. This may be around €1,000 but varies depending on the firm. This amount will then come off the fees they quoted you.
A solicitor should always:
- be clear about what they charge, even if it’s not a simple fixed amount;
- provide you with a s.150 letter;
- answer any questions you have on the estimated fees; and
- be clear with you on when fees are expected to be paid.
How is Liston Family Law Different?
Liston Family Law does not charge an hourly fee or different fees for solicitors who work on your matter. We charge a fixed fee for our initial consultation and from that meeting we get a good idea of what will be involved on your file.
We will then propose a fixed or capped fee for your matter in a s.150 letter. Sometimes, that may not be possible but for the vast majority of divorce cases in Ireland a fixed fee is possible. We do not charge outlays and disbursements on top of that.
We will also be clear with you as to how much a barrister’s fees will be on top of your solicitor fees. We work with barristers that will cap their fees or give a very accurate estimate of what they will charge.
We will request an initial retainer to be paid before we commence work on a file. We also, however, put in place structured payment plans bespoke for each client so they are clear what instalments they need to pay and when. They can then plan their finances accordingly.
This gives our clients some comfort that no matter what happens on their file, they know how much they will be paying for their legal advice and services and when they need to be paid.
We find that this helps to take away some of the fear of the unknown around the divorce process.
It might well be the case, unfortunately, that you cannot afford to engage a private family law solicitor to handle your divorce. In this case, you need to contact the Legal Aid Board – information can be found www.legalaidboard.ie.