The costs of a divorce depend upon several factors and legal costs can vary significantly between one solicitor and another. It is normally not the divorce process itself that is expensive, particularly now that we have a no-fault divorce system in place, but what might come with it such as reaching a resolution over financial matters or the children.
While it can pay to shop around, do bear in mind that like with everything else there can be an element of you get what you pay for. If your case is straightforward and your assets are modest then it makes sense to instruct a solicitor whose fees are going to be proportionate to the assets that you have between your spouse and yourself.
What if I have a complex case?
If you have a complex case with many assets, it is important that you instruct a solicitor with the correct level of expertise. This will no doubt come at a price but in most cases, it is a price worth paying for. In such cases trying to deal with it yourself or using an inexperienced solicitor can be a false economy.
How can I reduce costs?
A factor that can have an impact on the overall costs is how you or your spouse choose to deal with the issues between you. It can be very tempting to point score, argue over everything and refuse to consider any compromises. Do bear in mind however that the greater the level of agreement between your spouse and yourself, the less money you will both spend in legal fees. Your costs should always be proportionate to whatever it is that you are arguing about. For example, you could throw away large sums of money on legal fees in arguments over who gets the family silver or equivalent. Stop and ask yourself do you really love that piece of furniture so much that you are prepared to spend more in legal fees than its worth?
What if I can’t afford legal fees?
There will be many cases in which there is a disparity of income between one spouse and the other. This is common in more traditional marriages where one spouse is the main breadwinner, and the other is the homemaker. Many homemakers in a marriage that has broken down are reluctant to take any formal legal steps to separate because they are fearful of how they will pay for their legal fees. There may be very substantial assets between a separating couple, but one spouse holds all the purse strings. In such cases the homemaker might be able to apply to the Court for a Legal Services Order. This is a court application in which the economically weaker spouse applies for financial assistance from the other to cover their legal fees.
The alternative is to apply for what is loosely known as a “divorce loan”. This is a loan facility offered by a commercial lender that allows solicitors to draw down monies on behalf of their clients to cover their clients’ legal fees. At Branch Austin McCormick we partner with a highly regarded lending firm who offer such loans in cases where clients are “asset rich, income poor”. Our lending partner can even, in the right circumstances, cover the living costs of our clients until they receive their financial settlement.
If you would like any information on our legal fees and how they might apply to your case, please get in touch.
Saika Alam is a well-respected Family and Divorce lawyer based in Mayfair, London. Known for her personal and practical approach she has an extensive caseload that covers wealth protection, financial disputes, the children, parental orders, and cases with an international dimension.