Top tips for keeping divorce costs down
There are a number of simple steps that clients can take to help keep costs to a reasonable level.
There has been much in the news recently about the legal costs involved in getting a divorce. In many cases in England this has led to the Legal Services Ombudsman becoming involved in complaints involving family law matters.
There are a number of simple steps that clients can take to help keep costs to a reasonable level:
- Ensure that you research the expertise of the lawyer that you instruct. Make sure that he or she is known as an expert in the family law field. If often helps if you can get a recommendation.
- Divorce is an extremely stressful time for anyone involved in it. People are often emotionally raw and, even though this may be difficult, try to ensure that you do not use your lawyer as a counsellor. To do so will inevitably mean that costs will escalate.
- Listen to the advice that your lawyer is giving you and try not to have unrealistic expectations. Very often costs get out of control because a client wants to press on with actions that go against the legal advice that is being given.
- Costs will always be higher where your financial arrangements are complex. Make sure that you have as much knowledge or familiarity with the family finances are possible.
- During the divorce process you will be asked to provide copies of all your own financial information such as bank statements and credit card statements. Make sure that you keep all documentation that might be relevant. It is surprising how many clients continue to throw away key documents. It can be time-consuming and costly to replace lost documentation.
- Ensure that you receive monthly itemised bills from your lawyer and query any time entries that you are unsure about. Request an estimate from your lawyer at various stages throughout your case to keep track of costs.
- Remember that lawyers charge for all the work that they do on a file including taking/making telephone calls and receiving/ sending emails.
- During the divorce process it will usually be the case that other professionals need to be instructed e.g. valuers or accountants. Bear in mind that these costs will be in addition to the fees from your lawyer.
- The most expensive divorces are those where the parties contest everything and where it becomes inevitable that the court will have to make final decisions. These costs can be enormous, so try to settle out of court if at all possible.
- Try to engage a lawyer who is not only an experienced family lawyer but one who regularly settles matters through mediation and who has preferably been trained as a collaborative lawyer. Matters settled by mediation or agreement will always be not only cheaper but will provide a happier outcome for all involved.
Finally, it is crucial to remember that if you are getting a divorce then you only have one chance to get it right. The settlement that you get may well affect the rest of your life.