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Children Arrangements

At Crombie Wilkinson we appreciate that the arrangements for the children are going to be at the forefront of your concerns. We try our hardest to assist you in reaching agreements that will be workable for you and the family as a whole and to reduce any distress for you and particularly for the children.

We can assist you in negotiating arrangements directly with your former partner and help you through the Court process if that becomes necessary. We always hope that Court proceedings will be a last resort and very strongly recommend the use of Mediation to resolve issues without having to involve the Court. Please refer to our website for further information in relation to Mediation and how it might help your family.

If Court proceedings become necessary, then the interests of the children will be the main concern for the Court. The Court may sometimes request that a report be prepared by a Family Reporter from the Children Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS) who will then make recommendations to assist the Court and the (parties) in reaching decisions about the children.

Due to the nature of children cases, they are very case specific as no two families are the same and the individual needs of the children and the parents may differ greatly between families.

Our clients often therefore find the traditional method of payment for legal fees on an hourly basis to be appropriate for them. This enables clients to decide how much legal support they require. As an extension of our commitment to openness in relation to fees, we are also willing to provide fixed fee packages to help you sort out arrangements for the children or to deal with Court proceedings if these become necessary.

Fixed Fee Structure for Child Matters

A. Initial Court Application  

If initial negotiations are unsuccessful and an application to Court is required, then we offer the following support package which includes: 

1. Meeting with the Family Advisor

2. Letter of advice and information

3. Drafting Application

4. Lodging Application with the Court

5. Serving the Application upon the other party by post  

What is excluded:

1. Personal service of Court documents, which is sometimes a requirement dependent upon the nature of the Application and whether it is an emergency.

The costs of this stage will be discussed with your Legal Advisor.

B. First Court Hearing

In the majority of Court cases concerning children, the first attendance at Court will take place with you and your former partner together. This is referred to as an On Notice Hearing.

What is included:

1. Meeting with your Legal Advisor at Court

2. Negotiation with your former partner and their Legal Representative

3. Discussions with the CAFCASS Service

4. Representation at the hearing in front of the Judge or Magistrates on your behalf

5. Letter providing report following the hearing, together with written advice about the next stages of proceedings

The costs of this stage will be discussed with your Legal Advisor.

What is excluded:

Please note item (b) relates to interim direction hearings and not fully contested hearings which will have longer time allocated by the Court.

The above fee relates to hearings that do not exceed 2 hours attendance at Court. If the hearing time becomes extended, then there would be additional charges made at an hourly rate.

C. Court Hearing following receipt of CAFCASS Report

If the Court has ordered a CAFCASS Report and further enquiries to be made, the case will be listed for a second hearing in front of the Judge or Magistrates for a review of the CAFCASS Report and any additional documentation the Court may have requested.

What is included:

1. Meeting with your Legal Advisor at Court

2. Negotiation with your former partner and their Legal Representative

3. Discussions with the CAFCASS Service

4. Representation at the hearing in front of the Judge or Magistrates on your behalf

5. Letter providing report following the hearing, together with written advice about the next stages of proceedings

The costs of this stage will be discussed with your Legal Advisor.

What is excluded:

Please note item (c) relates to interim direction hearings and not fully contested hearings which will have longer time allocated by the Court.

The above fee relates to hearings that do not exceed 2 hours attendance at Court. If the hearing time becomes extended, then there would be additional charges made at an agreed hourly rate.

Contested cases in front of the Court that require evidence and cross examination of potential witnesses

The costs of those hearings will very much be led by the nature of the case and the time that has been allocated to the case by the Court. The costs of such hearings will need to be determined closer to the event depending upon the timescales and work involved.

Final Hearing

In relation to the Final Hearing itself, this would need to be determined closer to the event depending on the timescales involved. Where a matter proceeds to a final contested Hearing and the parties have to give evidence, depending on the issues, often it is more appropriate for you to be represented by a Barrister. The costs of doing so are in addition to the fees detailed above and any Barristers’ fees will need to be separately negotiated. As a guide, Barristers’ fees for a 1 day hearing are usually in the region of £2,500 plus VAT, with a further £1,500 plus VAT per additional day. We can advise further on these costs closer to the Hearing.

Court Advocacy  

Wherever possible, a representative from Crombie Wilkinson will attend Court hearings for you. Unfortunately, we rarely have control over the day that Court hearings are set and therefore inevitably situations will arise whereby your Crombie Wilkinson legal representative is not available to attend that hearing. In those circumstances, we will ensure that an alternative appropriate representative is made available either from within Crombie Wilkinson or, when appropriate, to instruct a Barrister on your behalf.

If the representation of a Barrister is needed, there will be an appropriate reduction in the relevant fixed fee stage to offset against the Barrister’s costs. Barristers’ rates, however, are quite often higher than Solicitors’ rates and they will therefore have to be negotiated on a case by case basis. We will always strive to secure the best representation for you. In addition, due to complexities or the particular circumstances of your case, there may be merit to you in being represented by a Barrister which may require additional costs to be incurred and this would be reviewed and agreed with you. 

ADDITIONAL EXPENSES

Interim Hearings

As part of proceedings it may be necessary to bring the matter back to Court for additional Interim Hearings to deal with any unforeseen issues which require the Court’s attention, a fixed fee will apply in relation to making this Application and related Court attendance.

Experts

In addition to the above costs of my firm, there would be separate fees incurred in relation to any experts that were required. For example it is sometimes necessary to obtain evidence from General Practitioners, Psychologists or Psychiatrists in complex cases. It is impossible to predict these costs at the outset of your case as it would be third parties (that were) undertaking that work and it would potentially be Ordered by the Court. Such experts are usually instructed on a joint basis by both parties’ solicitors and therefore the costs would be shared. We would obviously have to secure appropriate quotes if and when we got to that stage. 

Your Responsibilities

In order that we can effectively conduct your matter, you must agree to:

1. Give us instructions that allow us to do our work properly.

2. Not ask us to act in an improper or unreasonable way.

3. Cooperate with us.

4. Not act in such a way as to delay or prolong matters unreasonably.

5. It can be the case that protracted negotiations can take place without any reasonable prospect of reaching an agreement without the involvement of the Courts. If this is the case, you will agree to accept our guidance that matters are unlikely to reach agreement without the issue of Court Proceedings.

We can extend negotiations if you specifically wish us to do so however if our view is that these do not have any prospect of achieving an effective agreement we would reserve the right to agree additional charges with you.

Public Responsibility Policy

Until 1 April 2013 in certain circumstances some individuals qualified for Legal Aid. From 1 April 2013 under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, Legal Aid is no longer available except in very few circumstances.

We recognise that the cost of legal proceedings can be significant for families, particularly those on low incomes. We are therefore happy to try and formulate a package that suits your situation and the complexity of your case for clients who would previously have qualified for Legal Aid. This Scheme is available subject to financial eligibility but still requires regular payments on account of costs as the case progresses, including an initial deposit when the case commences.

 

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