Legal Services Order

A legal services order is an order for one party to make a payment to another party a sum of money. This is also known as a legal services payment order (LSPO). This sum of money is paid for the purpose of funding legal services.

As public funding has been withdrawn for most family matters, many families struggle with affording legal fees.

In divorce law this usually applies where one spouse doesn’t have the same financial means as their partner to fund legal representation.

Article Contents

What sort of payments can be made under a legal services order? 

Under a legal services order the court can order:

  • A one off payment
  • Payments in instalments
  • Payments for a specified period. This can cover the whole duration of the proceedings. It can also cover payments until a particular stage of the proceedings.
  • Deferred payments.

Who can apply for a legal services order?

A legal services order like a maintenance pending suit is only available to married couples.

This type of payment is available in divorce proceedings, financial remedy, nullity and judicial separation proceedings.

Is an order for maintenance pending suit same as a legal services order?

A legal services order is also known as a legal services payment order also known as a LSPO. This order is effectively legally forces one party to pay the other a sum of money to allow them to obtain legal services.

This is different to maintenance pending suit which is used to cover basic needs and expenditure of a spouse until the divorce is finalised.

A party may want to consider applying for both a maintenance pending suit same and a LSPO order depending on the complexity of the case and value of the matrimonial assets.

How can I apply for a LSPO?

An application for a LSPO is considered by a family court under the sections 22za and 22zb of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The power to make such an order was introduced on 1 April 2013 following the passing of The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 when public funding for most family proceedings was withdrawn and lead to many parties being unable to obtain legal services and thus be unrepresented.

In order to apply for an LSPO an applicant is required to submit:

  • The application in form D11
  • Supporting statement setting out the reasons for seeking an order and evidence of inability to obtain alternative funding such as a loan, and,
  • A draft order.

At Kabir Family Law, our divorce specialists can assist you in preparing your application for a legal services order. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation.

What do I need to provide to obtain a legal services order?

In order to successfully obtain a legal services order or LSPO you must be able to satisfy the court that you cannot fund legal services through the following:

  • You do not have sufficient funds to pay for legal services whereas your partner does have sufficient funds
  • You cannot reasonably get a loan to pay for the services.
  • In order to satisfy this you need to provide two rejection letters from the bank or credit card company.
  • Your legal advisor is not willing to enter into a Sears Tooth Agreement.
  • You cannot place a charge against any property you own.
  • You are not entitled to Legal Aid.

What does the court consider when making a LSPO?

The court must have regard to the following when deciding on making a LSPO:

  • The income and earning capacity of both parties
  • The conduct of the party which is paying for the LSPO order and especially whether they attempted mediation
  • The effect the LSPO will have on the party paying. I.e. if they paid for their spouses legal fees would they be able to continue affording their own legal services?
  • The financial needs and obligations of both parties, whether each party is legally represented, any attempts made by the applicant to avoid proceedings and the amount already owed to the paying party in respect of proceedings.

How long does a LSPO last?

 A LSPO does not last for an indefinite term. It only covers for the legal costs of proceedings. Therefore an LSPO may last for the duration of the proceedings or until a specified stage of the proceedings.

Can a legal services order be agreed by consent?

Separating parties can reach an agreement between themselves fof payment of legal fees.

If parties remain amicable and can agree then a LSPO order will not need to be pursued through the courts. This has the added benefit of saving costs associated with the application of a LSPO order.

What other alternatives are there to an LSPO?

Rather than obtaining a LSPO there are many alternatives that can be explored to help pay legal fees. As mentioned above one option is to borrow money from your spouse. This saves the expense of obtaining a legal services order. Another option may be to borrow money from friends and family. This can limit the animosity between separating spouses and may allow the divorce and financial matter to settle swiftly. If you are considering this option ensure a legal agreement is drawn up. This would enable the courts to consider the loan when dividing the matrimonial assets.

Other options include obtaining:

  • Utilising funds from a credit card
  • Personal loans
  • Obtaining a loan from a credit union
  • Legal expenses insurance. This already may be in place with your home or car insurance policy or
  • Reaching an agreement with your representatives to pay from your financial settlement.

Arrange a free consultation with to get help with a legal services order today

Our divorce law specialists deal with assisting on all aspects of the divorce including interim applications such as LSPO orders, freezing orders, maintenance pending suit and spousal maintenance.

Our family law experts at Kabir Family Law offer complete support and assistance from the process of making an application to the court to preparing you for family court hearings should the matter not settle any earlier.

Arrange a free consultation with one of our specialists to discuss how we can help you fight your case for financial support on 0330 094 5880 or let us call you back.