Courts can now order one party in a divorce or separation to pay the other enough money to hire a lawyer or solicitor.
Sections 49 to 51 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 provide courts ruling on divorce, separation or declarations of nullity (annulment) with the right to “make an order or orders requiring one party to 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.”
Sections 52 to 54 meanwhile, make the same provision for same sex couples in civil partnerships.
The power to order such payments is a general one and not limited ‘maintenance pending suit’, in which courts make a temporary order for the payment of financial support (maintenance) before a divorce settlement has been officially concluded and a decree absolute has been issued.
Maintenance pending suit is a provision of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.