News and Insights
9 April 2019
Senior Legal Assistant, Alexandra Cohen, reveals her top tips on how to keep divorce costs to a minimum
Divorce can be an upsetting and challenging time for everyone involved. If proceedings are drawn out, costs can start to spiral upwards. If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of divorce or a dispute in relation to your children, there are a number of things you should think about when trying to avoid incurring unnecessary legal fees:
Documentation: Complete all the necessary forms and documents as thoroughly as you can, as instructed and at the first request. Double and triple check them before sending them back.
Financial disclosure: If financial information is requested, please make sure that it is provided as soon as possible and that it is in order. It will also need to be updated regularly (usually on the first day of each month). You might want to make a note in your diary to do this every month so you do not forget. If your lawyer has to chase you, you will be charged for this.
Keep an open mind: Consider your lawyer’s advice and pay careful attention to it. You may have differing opinions but remember that they are there to advise you on the law, even if it isn't the advice that you want to hear. No situation will be the same, so it’s important to keep an open mind about the different ways in which you may be able to resolve your case. Make sure that you think rationally and that you are not simply trying to win, as there is rarely a winner or a loser in family proceedings.
Time-keeping: Ensure you check your email and your post regularly, as it is essential that you provide instructions and responses to any correspondence in a timely manner. Ideally, your lawyer shouldn't have to chase you or have to request outstanding information more than once. Remember they are simply trying to help your case.
Take note: If you have a general query that is not overly time pressured or urgent, make a note of it and discuss it when you next meet or speak with your lawyer. Having regular, perhaps weekly discussions with your lawyer will be more time and cost effective, rather than raising each query individually by email or by telephone.
Don’t go off-piste: When meeting with your lawyer, stick to what is relevant so that you can keep your discussions and emails concise. Don’t waste time discussing areas that will cost you more in legal fees in comparison to the value of the asset / money you are arguing over.
Engage in alternative dispute resolution (ADR): If ADR is recommended, make sure you go into it with an open mind and engage fully, as it is your opportunity to resolve the case outside of the courtroom. Being open to the alternatives to court will ultimately keep your costs down.
Take time when choosing your divorce lawyer: When selecting your divorce lawyer, it’s important to spend some time doing research on the type of lawyer they are and whether they're suited to you. Do they specialise in family law? Do they have a reputation for being a problem solver? Or are they well known for litigating on every case? With family law being such a sensitive area of law, it's crucial to choose a lawyer who has the ability to negotiate and resolve issues outside court (depending on the case). Keeping as many issues as possible out of the court room will inevitably keep your costs down.