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Paying legal fees: how to avoid getting in debt for divorce

As a leading firm of family lawyers announces that it is to provide clients with access to a fund for loans to cover their legal fees, it brought to mind the issues about the payment of legal fees and what options already exist to help our clients.

So, we asked Graham Coy, Partner at our London Chancery Lane office to join us on the blog to look at how to avoid getting into debt for divorce.

Getting divorced can be expensive, especially if court proceedings are necessary to sort out arrangements for children or to resolve differences over financial issues. Here are my tips on how to avoid getting in debt for your divorce (and other family law matters).


My first piece of advice, is to avoid going to court if possible.

There are four ways to resolve areas of disagreement, so please do explore those first.

They are:


Arbitration is an alternative to going to court.

Instead of a Judge, an Arbitrator will decide on the outcome which is as binding as if made in court.

The overwhelming advantages of Arbitration over the court proceedings are:

  • It is much quicker
  • It is cheaper
  • It offers greater flexibility
  • Continuity – the same Arbitrator will see the case through from beginning to end. Rarely, if ever, does this happen in the courts process.
  • Greater privacy


My second is please do negotiate sensibly and realistically. Don’t make it a personal battle. Instead focus on what is best for you and your family and accept that you may have to compromise.  It is bound to be cheaper than going to court and in the long-term, less damaging.


And thirdly, if all this fails, what can you do if you don’t have enough liquid cash to cover your legal fees?

It is important to consider the strategy for paying costs at the very start of the case.

There are an increasing number of lenders who will make funds available for legal fees. But be aware that these loans attract arrangement fees and interest rates which will be higher than conventional bank loans and more akin to credit card loans.

Normally, loans are not repayable until a case is over and the interest is only paid on what is used if the facility is larger. But don’t forget that like any loan it must be repaid.

Here at Stowe, we work with a variety of lenders to meet clients’ differing needs and the rates of lending are becoming increasingly competitive.  However, clients considering such loans must take independent legal advice before signing a loan agreement.

We support our clients to:

  • Introduce them to available funding solutions
  • Find lenders with greater flexibility over rates and terms
  • Look at repayment from settlement proceeds
  • Access independent legal advice, which is an essential requirement for securing a loan from all lenders

As a result, our clients will not find themselves at a disadvantage and we can ensure that they have access to a whole array of options, giving them the best opportunity to present their case in the strongest way possible.


3 October 2018


Graham was based at the firm's London family law office. His career as a family law specialist has spanned three decades. He is an experienced advocate, mediator and arbitrator who has worked in all areas of family law.

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