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Legal Ombudsman

(8 Posts)
OmbudsmanAdvice Wed 13-Jul-11 08:25:31

I'm not really expecting resident sols to love me for this...

I complained to LO about online law company's consent order. Child maintenance was included as a recital rather than part of the order.

I requested 'all' to be in order and anticipated this. Didn't appreciate it wasn't, until he stopped paying.

LO agrees sol should have made me aware they had not included it. Does not agree they should compensate me for the loss caused by lack of payment and inability to register order.

My questions are 1) is this reasonable? 2)Do most sols include CM in first consent order at point of divorce? (I know it 'lasts' only 12 months). I thought CMEC were advising CO used now to settle CM?

bringinghomethebacon Wed 13-Jul-11 10:04:09

As a family solicitor I would include it within the main body of the consent order yes and I would say it is wrong to put in a recital. I am surprised the court approved it like that. However as you say the order can only last 12 months. You can opt for a CSA assessment now so you are losing out on the difference between the CSA assessment and whatever you had agreed in the consent order between the time he stopped paying and the time when the 12 months would have expired anyway. How much is what exactly, I would be surprised if the firm didn't just pay it to you to settle the claim as I can't imagine it can be that much money. Even if they had included it in the main body of the order, if your DH had stopped paying you would still have had to go to court to enforce it and incurred legal costs and time wastedand after 12 months either one of you could opt for the CSA instead. So you probably have not been in a much worse position by not being able to enforce the order but as a matter of goodwill the solicitors may wish to agree to pay you the difference, or some amount to settle your complaint. CMEC encourage parties to agree child maintenance between themselves but this does not change the 12 month rule and the option to opt for a CSA assessment after 12 months if you have previously agreed a higher payment between you.

OmbudsmanAdvice Wed 13-Jul-11 19:22:55

Thank you bhtb

I was under the impression that most sols would put it under the main body. You have added to that impression.

I will be going to local sol and taking this further

babybarrister Wed 13-Jul-11 20:23:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OmbudsmanAdvice Wed 13-Jul-11 20:59:23

Interestingly I can start to believe it because I went to the court and asked for help. I was advised to register the order and spent 7 months in that whole process, attended court etc before the error was realised!

It had become apparent that I would not see money for a long time.... if at all. CSA was much faster but I had lost 6-7 months worth of payments.

bringinghomethebacon Wed 13-Jul-11 21:37:30

Ah. Did you spend legal costs on trying to enforce it or did you do it yourself? I imagine that has rather added to your costs and of course the money you lost out on in that lengthy process while you thought you could not opt for the CSA. Would be interested to hear the opinion of the ombudsman.

bringinghomethebacon Wed 13-Jul-11 21:41:43

I also wanted to comment in reply to your initial post where you start by saying "I'm not really expecting resident sols to love me for this". Solicitors who don't do their job properly are a hassle for the rest of the profession and cause problems for us when we have them on the other side. However this probably is a mistake easily made by a fairly junior solicitor, I can just imagine making it in the early days of my career and being mortified. I wonder what my firm would have done though, I think any of the firms I have worked for would pay up to save their reputation. However I can't see any of the firms I worked for letting this mistake get through as someone more senior would have looked at it - this may be a warning as to the perils of using online solicitors.

Just seen that the ombudsman does not agree you should be compensated - why did they say that?

OmbudsmanAdvice Wed 13-Jul-11 22:23:00

bhtb - I hope you'll appreciate I cannot discuss certain specifics (In fact I don't know what specifics I can discuss?) but the LO opinion is not something I think I can discuss. I wish I could because I'd love some advice.

You are correct in assuming the delay added to the costs. This loss remains mine.

I appreciate your comments re sols. I used an online service because of the appeal of a fixed price and because at that time we had an amicable agreement. I did not wish either of us to be encouraged to enter into arguing over what was a very small pot. Friends have spent nearly the size of my share of the pot on their legal costs during divorce. I feared involving a sol tbh. I had to, to get the consent order drafted. It was straightforward (I thought)

The key issue is whether the CM should be in the main body and what might have happened if it had been.

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