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How Fees Work, Plus Frequently Asked Questions

At Lowther Family Law in British Columbia, we know you have questions, and we want to give you answers. Whether you're wondering about legal fees or you have general questions about divorce and separation, we can help. Learn more on this page, or find the answer you need by contacting us today.

Legal Fees
If you're facing the prospect of a divorce or separation, you're probably concerned about the legal expenses. Your concerns are reasonable, because divorce and family litigation can quickly become expensive, adding stress just when you need it the least. But by making sure you obtain competent legal advice, you can keep costs down by helping all parties avoid making decisions that prejudice their rights, or needlessly complicate their case.

We try our best to provide our clients with an estimate on the expense of legal representation, and we'll also keep you informed about the future costs of upcoming steps in the proceedings. It's also not uncommon for family lawyers to request a deposit, also known as a "retainer." The retainer will be used as work is billed, and kept in trust. If it ever needs to be replenished, we will let you know.

We bill our clients monthly, and you'll receive a statement detailing the work performed over the prior month. We charge $395 as our hourly rate, and there aren't additional hourly charges for our support staff or legal administrative assistants.

For uncontested divorces, co-habitation agreements and separation agreements we offer fixed fees. Contact our office for more details.
How much time does a divorce take?
If the divorce is uncontested (in other words, if there are no arguments regarding support, custody or division of property), it generally takes around 3 to 4 months. However, if your spouse does not reside in British Columbia, it may take a little longer. You won't have to appear in court for an uncontested divorce. You'll only be required to attend two brief meetings with a lawyer in order to sign the necessary documents.
Can I date someone before I'm divorced if I am separated?
You can, but we do advise our clients to be discreet about any newly formed relationship prior to the final resolution of anything arising from the breakdown of the marriage. If children are involved, adding a new partner into the equation can be a sensitive issue, and it could even affect the custody decision. New partners can also spur hurt feelings and cause emotions to flare, which makes it more difficult to settle things amicably out of court.
Could it be considered abandonment, or will I lose the rights to my share of family assets, if I leave the family home?
No. The actions of a spouse during a divorce aren't to be considered by the court, since divorce is basically a "no-fault" procedure. The only time the conduct will be considered if it relates to a spouse's ability to be responsible for a child. Blame for the breakdown of the marriage is not a factor when it comes time to divide family assets. But do keep in mind that an action leaving the other spouse in possession of children or the family assets of the marriage will give that spouse a strategic advantage in the events that follow.
What are my options for mediation?
During mediation, a third party without affiliation to either side will help both spouses arrive at an agreement on issues that arise from the end of the marriage. A mediator cannot give legal advice, and is not a judge that decides how things should be settled. Mediation is simply another way to help resolve disputes concerning family law. That said, mediation can only truly be successful if both parties are open to compromise. Fred C. Lowther, of Lowther Family Law, is an experienced family law lawyer who can help you resolve disputes.
What is child support meant to cover?
Child support is meant to help with the living expenses of the child. This includes basics such as food, diapers, clothing, personal care supplies, school supplies and basic expenses for activities. It is also meant to share the extra costs to provide a living space for them, for example, an additional bedroom. There may be extraordinary expenses that can be paid for items such as tutoring and summer camps.
Do I have to pay child support for my step-children?
Yes, in some cases, you may be required to pay support for step-children. This will depend upon many factors and you should seek legal advice.