Q. My wife and I have been married for 14 years and we have two children together. She recently told me that she wants a divorce but I have no money. My wife is the main bread winner and controls all of our finances. I don’t have any private savings to pay for a solicitor – what can I do?
A: As the financially weaker party, you have a number of options available to you to ensure you get fair and equal access to legal advice similar to what your wife may be receiving. However, before we steamroll in, I would suggest speaking with your wife about what she is proposing in terms of your divorce, the care of the children, financial arrangements and the payment of legal advice. You may reach an agreement with her and as a result, you may only need to instruct a lawyer to draft any legal documentation to finalise everything.
However, if you are unable to come to an agreement or even have a constructive discussion about such sensitive issues, or you would like legal advice on any proposed settlement before it is finalised (which I would always advise) or assistance with completing any court document you can:
b. A Legal Services Order which would involve an application to the court for your wife to fund your legal fees. This will either result in:
i. the court ordering your wife to pay your legal fees (if your evidence supports such an order);
ii. your wife making an offer to cover your fees in full; or
iii. your wife making a suitable contribution towards your legal fees sufficient to enable you both adequate and fair access to the legal profession to deal with the issues you are facing as a result of your separation/divorce.
Katie is Partner and Mediator in Winckworth Sherwood’s Family Team, with over 10 years’ experience advising on all family issues.