(1800) 217 217INCORPORATING JAMES NOBLE FAMILY LAW

Fixed Fee Family Law

fixed-fee-policyx192FIXED FEE POLICY by Family Law

 *Quoted prices for family law matters

In my vast experience in family law for a period in excess of 35 years I have endeavoured to provide clients with details of what their costs are going to be in resolving issues arising from the breakdown in their relationship and in resolving such issues by way of negotiation, collaboration, mediation or litigation.

I know from my large involvement in family law matters that clients have a great concern as to what their costs are going to be.  In my practice at all times my firm has endeavoured to clearly define the costs for our clients so that they can best plan the course of action that would be most suitable to resolving financial, parenting and other issues.

Costs of resolution

No obligation 20 minute free consultation

This provides an overview to prospective clients of the family law process involving their matter to enable the client to gain an understanding of their rights and obligations, the legal ramifications and the best course of resolving the difficulties arising from the breakdown in their relationship.  It will provide an overview of counselling and the legal process and the likely cost involved.  No fees are charged for this consultation and no obligations arise from this.

Divorce fee $825 (including GST) Plus Disbursements

This includes taking client’s instructions, drafting the divorce application, completing and signing application and lodgement of application with the Court.

Disbursements:

  • Filing fees (as prescribed by the Federal Circuit Court)          $845
  • Town agent fee for filing documents at Court (depending on fee charged).
  • Service fee (possible range from $60 to $100) depending on the charge of the process server.

A further fee of $550 (based on current hourly rates) will be charged if it becomes necessary for a solicitor to attend on the hearing of the application.  (Normally this is not required)

Any additional work required over and above the quoted fee will be charged at the hourly rate of the solicitor involved.

Pre Nuptial / Financial Agreements

The fees for drafting or advising in relation to Pre Nuptial/Financial Agreements will depend on the instructions received and the complexity of the document to be drafted or in relation to the advice to be provided.  The fees will be determined on a no obligation 20 minute free consultation with the client to enable the client to have a clear understanding of the costs involved prior to any work being carried out.

Initial instructions        $3,300 (including GST) (This does not form part of the fixed fee policy)

This fee includes taking the client’s detailed instructions (1 to 2 hours), drafting a statement of instructions, providing an initial advice, providing the client with the options to advance their matter which may include drafting a pre action letter and/or collaborative letter addressed to the other party.

This fee relates to taking instructions in all matters apart from divorce applications and the drafting of Pre Nuptial/Financial Agreements.

After taking your initial instructions we are then able to advise you of the fixed fees in relation to the further stage/s required to advance your matter.

Fees for various stages of a matter beyond initial instructions

The collaborative process

This is the most effective way for our client’s to reach a resolution.  The solicitors are collaboratively trained.  The parties negotiate in the joint meetings with their solicitors.

From my experience meetings normally run from 3 to 8 meetings.  In some cases the meetings extend beyond this.  Costs for each party can vary between $5,000 to $15,000 on average and this is an indication of what costs may occur.  However matters can become complex because of difficult children’s issues or where there are matters to be considered involving corporations, trusts, partnerships and so forth in which case the costs may exceed the average costs for running a matter in this manner.

The clients are advised during the course of the negotiation meetings on their costs and a clear indication is given to the clients if the costs exceed the average costs which have been indicated.  Clear reasons for any increase in costs are fully discussed with the clients during the course of the meeting.

The collaborative process consists of a number of joint meetings.  The meetings are normally of two hours duration.

The first meeting

  • The first meeting is normally an administrative meetings.  It is to be hoped at the end of that meeting an agenda is completed listing the matters to be discussed at the next meeting.
  • In the first meeting the costs of the process will be determined.  Any urgent matters will be dealt with.
  • At the end of each meeting costs for subsequent meetings will be discussed to enable the parties to have a clear indication of what the further costs will be during the course of the subsequent meetings.
  • In the first meeting it will determine if other professional people are involved and their costs will be discussed and agreed upon.

Other matters

Litigation

The litigation process involves various stages.  An outline of the work to be undertaken will be provided to the client and a cost estimate will be determined for each stage of the matter.  This gives the client an indication of what the costs will be during each stage of the matter.

At the completion of each stage the client will be advised of work required for the next stage of the matter and details of costs will then be provided.

Mediation

The joint appointment of a mediator also consists of various stages.

After taking initial instructions the client will be advised of the work required leading up to the actual mediation with the mediator.  This involves disclosure of financial, medical and other documents required for the mediation.  Joint valuations of realty and other assets may also be arranged for the purpose of the mediation.  The costs of the valuations are shared costs unless otherwise agreed and the client will be advised of his/her share of such costs.   Details of the work required will be provided to the client and the costs for the preparation for the mediation will be determined and made known to the client.

Mediations normally take one day with a mediator for completion and costs for that attendance on the mediation will be made known to the client.

Additional costs however are incurred because of the mediator who has been appointed to assist the parties to negotiate a settlement of the issues arising from the breakdown in their relationship, be that parenting or financial issues.  The mediator’s costs are shared and are normally in the range of $3,500 to $5,000.  These costs are in addition to the legal costs incurred by each party.  The mediator’s fee is a fixed fee and the client will be advised of this fee.

Again this provides the client with a clear indication of what costs may be involved from taking initial instructions to the completion of the mediation.

The overall advantage of having your fees determined

  • The client will at all stages have knowledge of the fees that will be incurred in the running of the matter.

If work is required for the client outside the estimated work, details of which are provided to the client, then the costs for such work will be fully discussed with the client and the reasons for such work will be provided and made known to the client.  The client will be advised of the estimated costs for carrying out such work or alternatively the client will be advised that such work will be charged at an hourly rate.

  • By determining fees for the client the client will have a realistic indication of the fees relevant to his or her matter and the client can budget accordingly.
  • By determining fees in the manner described it eliminates to a very large degree the uncertainty of what the costs may be and the client will have a thorough knowledge of the costs for each stage of his or her matter.
  • By determining fees in the manner described the lawyer and client have a thorough knowledge of the timetable in carrying out the work required for each stage of the matter and the lawyer can work efficiently to complete each stage at the earliest possible time to ensure that the matter progresses quickly and is completed in an appropriate time frame.
  • To ensure that the matter does run smoothly the client must provide clear instructions and provide full and proper disclosure of all relevant documents to the lawyer.  Such documents must be provided in an appropriate time frame to avoid delays in the conduct of the matter.
  • The running of a matter is always subject to the ability of solicitor acting for the client’s partner to run their file in the same efficient manner that our firm will provide to our own client.  There are elements which are beyond our firm’s control and the client will be fully appraised of any delays in the running of the matter and the reasons for such delays.
  • The conduct of the matter in the manner described will, to the best of our ability, eliminate any uncertainty and will enable the client to have a clear understanding of the matters involved in the conduct of his or her own matter.

Defined fee arrangement

When a client engages our firm to act on his/her behalf the client will be requested to enter into a Legal Services Agreement.  The agreement will set out all the terms in regard to the firm’s obligations and the client’s obligations for the conduct of the matter.

When our firm has been engaged to act for the client arrangements will then be made for the payment of funds by the client into trust to cover each stage of his or her matter.

The client has an option of not proceeding by way of a defined fee and can request that each item of work be billed separately on an hourly rate.

167x167_08The agreement between the client and our firm covers the work required in each matter.  The client will not be requested to pay for charges for telephone calls, postage and photocopying of documents on his or her file.  However if photocopying of documents is required for documents to be supplied to the other lawyer, to brief  Counsel or to the Court, the client may be required to pay the administrative costs associated with such photocopying.  The client will be fully appraised of charges in this regard.

The defined fees payable by the client in each matter will be for the fees which are agreed for the work for each stage of the matter.  If work is required outside that indicated to the client then the client may be required to provide funding for such work.  The client will be fully advised of the work outside that indicated in the defined fee and the reasons why such work becomes necessary.

Payment for each stage

There is a requirement for the client to provide funding for the defined fee for each stage of the matter prior to work being undertaken on his or her behalf.

Funds into Solicitor’s Trust Account

‘Trust money is defined in s237 of the Legal Profession Act 2007 (‘LPA’) as being money entrusted to a law practice in the course of or in connection with the provision of legal services by the practice and includes money received on account of legal costs.’

Law Firm’s Trust Bank Accounts are strictly controlled by the Queensland Law Society and are subject to regular auditing.  Funds deposited into a Law Firm’s Trust Account do not belong to the Law Firm and are held in Trust on behalf of the client and can only be used for the purpose for which they were deposited.

The firm will issue the client an Official Trust Account receipt which will specify on whose behalf the funds are held and the purpose for which they are to be used.

Law Firm’s Trust Bank Accounts do not receive any bank interest.

The Law Firm can only access these funds once they have completed the work for which they were deposited and have issued a Tax Invoice to the client.  Any excess funds remaining in the Trust Account belong to the client and require the client’s written authority as to how the funds are to be dealt with.

Disbursements

What are disbursements?  Disbursements are fees incurred in a matter which are not fees covered by the defined fee agreement regarding the conduct of the matter by your lawyers.

For example, other professionals may be engaged to provide reports.  Such professionals may carry out work on your file at the client’s request or be required to be engaged pursuant to a Court order for a joint expert to be appointed to carry out for example, valuations of realty and other assets.

Examples of disbursements are fees for valuers to value property, medical fees for medical reports, fees of a process server to serve documents in the matter, other professional fees where they are required to provide subpoenaed documents or to give evidence in the trial or hearing of a matter in support of documents subpoenaed or reports provided.

If a Barrister is engaged in a matter (A Barrister will not be engaged without the client’s consent first had and received), the client will be fully advised on why a Barrister may be required in the matter.  A Barrister normally conducts the trial of a matter should a matter go to trial and can be engaged for conferences with a client or with the client’s lawyer.  The Barrister is required to provide a fee note for any work for which he is engaged and the fee note will clearly indicate the fees of the Barrister should he be engaged at the client’s request.

The lawyer has a responsibility for payment of disbursements if the lawyer has engaged other professionals or incurred a disbursement in the conduct of the matter.  For this reason the client will be required to provide funds into the trust account of the lawyer to cover such disbursements prior to the disbursements being incurred.

In summary

A defined fee arrangement takes away as best as can be achieved the uncertainties in the costs of conducting a matter.  The client is fully appraised of the costs involved and can budget accordingly.

The lawyer can carry out the work for which he or she is engaged efficiently, speedily and with the knowledge that his or her fees are covered for the work to be carried out.  This provides an incentive to the lawyer to carry out the work required in the most efficient and timely manner for the benefit of the client.

Our philosophy

Our firm has over 35 years experience in family law.

Our lawyers are fully qualified and have a vast experience in family law matters.

Because of the experience of our lawyers we are in a position to obtain the best results for our clients at the most economical cost.

We strive to provide to the client the best family law representation that the client could obtain and we act at all times in the best interests of our client.

We have an ethical obligation to the Courts if a matter should proceed to litigation and this ethical obligation to the Courts overrides our ethical obligations to our clients.  We are conscious of presenting the matter in the best manner possible before the Courts in interim or final hearings.

It is our aim to ensure that a client’s matter is completed in the most effective and timely manner at a cost to the client that is feasible and reasonable.

Our firm aims to comply with the principles set out in the “Best Practice Guidelines for Family Lawyers” which are the guidelines of the Family Law Section of the Law Counsel of Australia.

  • Being constructive and conciliatory
  • Narrowing the issues in dispute and looking for solutions
  • Supporting parties to find sensible and reasonable resolution of their differences
  • Ensuring that costs are not unreasonably incurred
  • Being objective and focussing on issues
  • Avoiding hostile and unnecessary exchanges
  • Protecting the best interests of children and not involving them in their parents’ disputes.

Our firm’s philosophy is to conduct a matter to achieve the most realistic and reasonable outcomes which are in the interest of all parties involved in a matter.

In litigation matters most matters settle before a Court hearing.  It is the aim of our firm to resolve matters at the earliest possible time.  This means that if a matter resolves at an early stage or at some stage prior to a trial then the costs for the client will be limited to the work carried out in the conduct of the file up until the stage of settlement.  Our aim is to resolve matters quickly thus ensuring that the costs incurred in a matter are limited to the benefit of the client.