There’s a general assumption that hiring a family law expert is expensive and there’s always somebody who knows someone who has a horror story about how much their divorce solicitor cost.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way and there are steps you can take to make the right decision about who to instruct and to make sure costs are kept under control.
6 Tips for Controlling your Divorce Solicitor Costs
Avoid hiring a lawyer who strings things along to bump up their fees
The longer your case drags on, the more stressful it is for everyone. A skilled and experienced lawyer will be able to negotiate terms of settlement but will also be able to identify if a court ordered timetable is required to make progress.
Here are a few key things to look out for when comparing divorce lawyers:
- Do they specialise in family law? Divorce is a complex area of law that can throw up issues you hadn’t anticipated. An expert will spot these early and make sure they don’t hold things up or work against you.
- Are they open about costs? A good family lawyer will discuss the likely fees at the outset and sit down with you regularly to review costs and make sure they’re proportionate to the case and the expected settlement.
- Are they approachable? A family law solicitor should put you at ease. You will be sharing personal information during the course of proceedings so it’s important you feel completely comfortable with your chosen adviser.
- What’s their reputation like? One of the best endorsements is personal recommendation. Failing that, ask to see some testimonials or check their rankings with Chambers UK and Legal 500.
- Are they members of Resolution? Resolution is a national association of family law professionals who abide by a code of conduct. Find out more information at www.resolution.org.uk.
Don’t get petty
Decide what is important to you and do not get side-tracked by smaller issues which are less important.
Compromise on some issues can help with attaining the bigger goal quicker and easier. Even if you think you are in the right, backing down can give you a psychological advantage because of the impact that small “victory” in a dispute may have on your spouse’s outlook and make them more willing to compromise on other issues.
Set some objectives
If you understand your own priorities it will be easier for your solicitor to help you work towards them. It’s possible that these objectives may change as the process moves forward and it’s important to continually review them with your lawyer and make sure that you are both aiming for the same goals.
Work with your lawyer
Your solicitor is on your side and will do everything possible to get you a fair settlement. That process will be easier and cheaper if they have your co-operation.
Here are some things you can do to ensure a swift and efficient divorce:
- Answer your solicitor’s questions promptly;
- Sign and return paperwork as quickly as possible;
- Avoid calling your solicitor with lots of small queries – ideally, aim to deal with several matters in a single communication;
- Don’t try to hide things – this only increases the distrust and leads to more costs with a more indepth investigation to see if there is anything else which may be hidden
- Share information – the more detail you can provide about your financial position, the better.
- Be open – tell your solicitor about your needs and expectations so that you can have an honest and frank conversation about what can realistically be achieved.
Keep an open mind
People often embark on the divorce process with a fixed view about what they expect to get out of it. Listen to your family law solicitor and take on board their advice about what to expect. Your solicitor will help you negotiate for things that are important to you but achieving one outcome may necessitate compromising on another. The more open and flexible you can be during the negotiation process, the better
Get the balance right
In spite of everything I’ve said so far, compromise isn’t always the best option. A good family law solicitor will tell you when an issue is worth fighting for and when spending a little bit more on legal fees will earn you a much bigger share of the financial pot.
The Court process can be very helpful and not something to be scared of. If your spouse is unco-operative, the court will set a timetable that has to be kept to. In the absence of court proceedings you can only reach a settlement on the timescale set by your spouse. Starting court proceedings does not remove your ability to reach an agreed settlement and the courts will only decide the terms if you and spouse are unable to reach any agreement.
And finally …
When you make the decision to instruct a specialist family solicitor to handle your divorce case, you are effectively investing in your future. The money you spend should result in a financial settlement that will enable you to build a life for yourself after divorce. A family solicitor will make sure nothing is overlooked whilst also helping to keep the process moving so that costs don’t mount up unnecessarily.