Now that my legal separation is sorted, I today received my solicitor's bill (I am in Scotland). This pertained to mainly getting the financials sorted prior to divorce, as well as access arrangements for the children, etc.
I had thought that the total bill came to about two and a half grand (I was originally told it would cost round about that figure), but it has actually totalled double that. I am in a state of absolute shock. I feel so incredibly stupid for not having requested a running tally of the costs as we went along.
My lawyer is aware of my financial situation, that I am a single parent obviously, who is currently out of work, and that I have no means of paying back this huge sum of money.
The letter that accompanied the invoice basically stated that, yes, the total was substantially higher than originally anticipated, but that this was because of my husband's 'rather entrenched position in connection with certain matters'.
Irony is that she couldn't have asked for an easier and more amenable client than me, as it's not in my nature to be difficult, and I simply wanted an end to everything.
Yes, I have been incredibly naive and stupid, but it would seem unethical to whack me with a huge bill at the end, with no prior warning.
Any advice on how to deal with this? I have no issue with paying it up, but it will take me years, presumably with interest added on.
Negotiate. I can't answer for Scotland but in England lawyers are required to keep you up to date and provide accurate costs updates. I'd take a starting point of saying you're only willing to pay up to the initial estimate as they didn't keep you up to date. Then see what they come back with.
What was in your initial engagement letter with your solicitor re costs estimate and invoicing?
Has all the work now been finished (I.e. Is there any reason to keep the solicitor onside)?
Subject to checking the above, yes to what Karak said. You are happy to pay the initial estimate (as per engagement letter) but no more as you did not give approval for extra costs to be incurred.
Solicitors should send regular invoices and let you know when initial estimates have been exceeded. This gives you the chance to say if you don't want them to do further work. The solicitor would be on shaky ground with the regulator if they failed to do this and so would struggle to enforce a bill higher than the initial estimate, and they will be aware of this.
You should have been provided with ongoing and updated estimates of costs and been given notice once the original estimate was exceeded. I would go back to the firm and advise that this did not happen and that you are unable to pay the total cost. They should at the least offer you the option of paying in instalments.