We’ve read with great interest an article on the website thisismoney.co.uk on how to save money on the cost of divorce. The article reports on a range of options to keep the cost of divorce to a minimum, ranging from DIY divorce, through to mediation and collaborative divorce.
DIY divorce can work for some couples and there are a number of online services which have been designed to help couples produce separation agreements online, helping them to save money and guiding them through each stage of the agreement. However, as the article acknowledges, a word of caution is needed when it comes to DIY divorce: in many cases family lawyers end up picking up the pieces, which in turn results in costly legal fees.
In the article, Angharad Lynn from the London-based law firm Belmont & Lowe, comments on DIY divorce: “Going it alone can be dangerous. You only get once chance to get this right and if there is a lot of money at stake saving a few thousand pounds in lawyers’ fees may turn out to be a false economy, especially if you are the spouse with fewer assets.
Your solicitor will obtain full financial disclosure to ensure that they have the whole picture of finances before any agreement is reached. We get clients who have started filling in the paperwork themselves only to have it sent back to them by the court because of errors. It can sometimes be more expensive to unpick these errors that to start the process from scratch with a lawyer.”
Last month saw the start of new laws which mean that couples must try to resolve the terms of their split through mediation before they begin court proceedings. This legislation has been put into place in an effort to slow down the rise in the huge numbers of divorce cases ending up in court â€“ 117,000 during the last year alone.
Mediation uses neutral negotiators â€“ rather than potentially costly solicitors â€“ to guide couples through agreements concerning their children and finances, helping to keep divorce costs lower. Although Legal Aid is no longer available for the majority of divorce cases, couples who are eligible can still apply for help with mediation costs. According to the Ministry of Justice, the average bill for mediation is Â£500, in comparison to $4000 per person for divorce cases which are settled in court. In addition, mediation is often far quicker than a ‘traditional’ court-based divorce.
A variation of mediation is lawyer assisted mediation. Designed to be used when basic mediation stalls or for couples who are keen to avoid mistakes, lawyer assisted mediation is mediation with legal handholding.
Collaboration and arbitration can also help to minimise legal bills. Arbitration is when a lawyer is called in to help resolve a single, contentious issue. Collaboration, as used by the team here at Dovetail, is where couples attend a series of face-to-face meetings with their family lawyers present with the goal of not having to go to court.
In situations where collaboration hasn’t worked and full legal assistance is required, according to the article it is still possible to prevent legal fees from mounting up. Using a fixed fee divorce service, such as those offered by us here at Dovetail, is one of the best ways to keep the cost of divorce in control, and we also offer a unique online divorce fee calculator to enable couples to understand the full cost of their divorce in advance.
To read thisismoney’s article, please visit their website and if you would like further information on our collaborative divorce services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.