Retaining a lawyer can be expensive, and not everybody always has funds available to start their legal proceedings. It may be that you don’t have access to the cash savings that were accumulated in the relationship. Or, you and your former partner may be “asset rich and cash poor”, with limited available savings in the bank.
In those circumstances, it is possible to make an application to the Court for funds to be made available for you to be able to pay for legal representation. This is commonly referred to as “litigation funding”.
There needs to be a potential source of funds available to apply for litigation funding. Examples of a source include:
- A savings account in your former partner’s sole name;
- An investment property that can be sold;
- Non-essential assets that can be sold (eg. Caravan, motor vehicles not for every day use, etc.);
- Funds from the sale of property already being held on trust.
If there is agreement about accessing these funds, then you don’t need to make a Court application. You and your former partner may agree, for example, to sell an asset and split the proceeds.
Before making an order for such funding, the Court will consider whether you have access to other sources of funds to pay your lawyer. If you earn significant income, or have cash savings or assets of your own, it is less likely that a Court will make an order for litigation funding.
If there are no assets that can be sold, or savings that can be transferred, then a litigation funding application is not recommended. In those circumstances, it may not be possible to retain a private lawyer to represent you.
Other organisations like Victoria Legal Aid or community legal centres may be able to assist you in circumstances where you have an important family law matter that needs to be resolved, but you cannot afford to pay a lawyer to help you.
If you are not sure whether a litigation funding application is appropriate for you, contact us for a no-obligation initial conference to discuss your options.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer?