Frequently Asked Questions
Here we can give you some helpful scenarios which can assist you with some of the more common questions we are asked.
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I have been married for some 24 years, and my husband has suddenly left me.
We have had four children, and I have spent most of my life bringing them up, and traditionally we have arranged our lives so that my husband always earned the money, paid all of the bills and sorted out our finances, while I looked after the home, the children and indeed my husband who runs his own business.
It is absolutely clear to me now that my marriage is at an end, and I am needing to find a good solicitor. I know that my husband will go to the best, and I am worried that, because I do not have access to any money of my own, as my husband is paying the bills and letting me have a certain amount for my own expenses, I will be forced to have a poorer legal team than that of my husband because I cannot afford the same as him.
Is there anything I can do about this?
Yes. The law has, in fact, changed to help people in your position, and the Government have inserted Sections 22ZA and 22ZB into the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
Section 22ZA(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act specifically enables the Court to make an order requiring one party of the marriage to pay to the other an amount ‘for the purpose of enabling the Applicant to obtain legal services for the purposes of the proceedings’.
Obviously this assists you enormously.
There are some hurdles you have to jump before an application of this sort will succeed, but these are relatively straightforward. Firstly, the lawyers that you choose will have to state whether they are prepared to come to any particular arrangement with you enabling you to pay late or secure your legal costs on property, but many firms will no longer consider this.
You should also apply to your bank for a loan for the purpose of pursuing your divorce so that you can tell the Court, in due course, that you have tried to raise money other than by making an application for help from your husband.
From everything you have told me, I can see no reason why your application should not succeed, and in passing your husband could be ordered to assist you either by making one payment of a lump sum to you, or alternatively by ordering a monthly payment to cover legal costs.
The important thing here, from the Government’s point of view, has been that all parties in litigation have ‘equality of arms’ to fight through the Court.