Family court, child custody and parenting orders, legal aid and everything else to do with Australian Family Law....post your questions here, and perhaps a fellow single mum will have an answer! As with the rest of the Single Mother Forum, this is a mums supporting mums forum, not a legal advice forum.
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By Experia
#16658
Hi there,

My family has been going through a long divorce proceeding that has finally gotten a settlement agreement in the matter of property.

However, the lawyers that we have used to assist in this process have charged an excess amount of fees which we deem unreasonable for the work they have done.

We had one solicitor (solicitor A) that worked with us and had arranged how we would go about with the case in regards to arranging mediation and try to settle outside of court. In the middle of last year, the law firm changed the lawyer in charge to solicitor B without our approval and we first met at the directions hearing before the set mediation date. They had asked us how we wanted to pay them for their appearance, either by direct deposit, cheque or cash. This shocked me.

Solicitor B failed to claim back child support from my ex-partner and had produced little to no evidence to support my position as a mother and sole caretaker of four children. When in the mediation room with my ex partner and an interpreter, the mediator was furious at how poorly prepared both of the solicitors were. Quote, `empty handed'. The interpreter translated that the mediator also stated that: 'there was no document or evidence to claim back for Child Support'. The decision landed on an almost even split of the property which was utterly shocking and I was in disbelief. Especially after what I stated and given to solicitor B and their Senior solicitor, the mediator should have ruled in my favor from all the evidence (paperwork) that I provided to them including statements and bills I have paid over the years and how I was the sole caretaker of the children.

After exiting and entering a private room to discuss the settlement agreement, Solicitor B promised to claim back child support after I accepted a deal from my ex-partner and win back more of the property percentage. However, she gave me incorrect advice. The mediator stated that child support had to be claimed on the day of mediation, which my solicitor failed to do for me after multiple requests. Under pressure and not wanting to proceed further, I reluctantly accepted. I felt distraught, dissapointed and upset.

Our family settled in mediation and did not proceed further to court. Solicitor B had calculated costings beyond the mediation date which they predicted may happen if we did not settle that day. The costs have sky rocketed from the initial agreed amount and verbal clarification from the Senior Solicitor that the cost would not exceed the agreed amount. After waiting weeks to obtain the sealed orders, solicitor B had incorrectly spelled my name wrong, twice. We waited almost a total of 7 months to have it corrected, which dragged the process on further causing me and my family distress and worry. From this and lack of communication on their behalf, we have made a formal complaint against them and are now in negotiations about settling the fees. We have made them a counter offer which we believe is fair but are worried they may take the matter further to court to demand full payment for their services.

What would be the chances of us winning the court case if worst case scenario they take us to court? Is there anything we can do? What can we do in this situation?

We are worried and scared. I am a single mother of four and am unable to afford to pay their astronomical demanded fees for a poorly done job.

Regards,

-Experia
By Mum22
#16667
Power to you for demanding that they explain themselves!

I have no info on what they may do, but damage to their professional reputation may mean they'd prefer to settle rather than have everyone know what sh!t lawyers firm they are!

I wish you well xx