Keeping down the cost of divorce and legal separation – What you can do

Nicola Furmston

When you have decided to separate or divorce and need legal advice, the first thing to do is to find good solicitors in Ipswich who can represent you.  Next, you need to think about how to keep the costs down. The overriding way of minimising legal fees, whether for divorce, separation, or any other matter, is to minimise the time and effort required from your solicitor. Here we outline a number of ways that you can do this.

Solicitors in Ipswich – Click here for full information on how our family solicitors can help you.

Give a full financial picture as early as possible

Your solicitor will need a full picture of assets and debts for both yourself and your partner. Full and frank disclosure minimises time spent in requesting additional information. Gather together as much information as you can. This will all help to provide your solicitor with a clear idea of your finances at an early stage. Take along a list of your income, assets and outgoings to the first meeting with your solicitor if you can.

Reach a settlement quickly but thoroughly

Anything that you can agree between yourself and your former partner minimises time spent in discussion with lawyers trying to agree. It can be difficult to talk to one another, but, if at all possible, discuss division of property and any childcare arrangements between yourselves before getting your solicitors involved. Even broad agreement can be helpful, because the finer details are easier to iron out once a general agreement already exists.  Take your time over important decisions if necessary, because hasty decisions can be costly and complicated to reverse at a later stage in the process.

Using mediation can be a way to speed up settlement in cases where it has been difficult to reach agreement between yourselves, which will also save money in the long run. Professional mediation also provides a more thorough process, ensuring all key details have been considered. The cost of mediation sessions are normally split between the parties, so this can again help to keep down the costs.

Avoid wrangles over low value items

It is all too easy for feelings to run high over a particular item which both ex-partners want, and for this to turn into an emotional tug-of-war. However, the time (and cost) it takes to argue over, say, items of furniture will probably outweigh the value of the goods themselves, as most second-hand household items are worth little in terms of cash. If the items have great sentimental value, it is a good idea to consider equitable means of resolving the issue. For instance, you could identify all items of sentimental value and share them equally between yourselves.

Keep meetings focused

Shorter meetings are less costly than longer ones, and you can help to keep them short by preparing well beforehand. Bring all paperwork and information asked for, and make a list of questions you want to ask. This will make it less likely that you will forget something and need an extra meeting as a result.

Keep communication to the point

Letters and emails to your solicitors in Ipswich should be concise, containing just the essential information without a lot of unnecessary detail. Although it can be tempting to let off steam if feelings are running high, remember that long, rambling letters and emails take time for a solicitor to read and pick out the relevant information, which again pushes up the cost to you.

Process paperwork quickly

Send the required documents to your solicitor as quickly as possible, and sign and return all paperwork right away, without causing unnecessary delays. Having to chase you for documentation takes someone’s time and increases the costs which you will have to pay.

Always be contactable

Even if you go on holiday or have to travel on business, make sure your solicitor in Ipswich knows where to get hold of you. If your solicitor has to try to locate you at a critical point in the process, this can quickly rack up costs.

Get emotional support

Many delays and obstacles that occur in the process of coming to a settlement, getting paperwork signed and so on, stem from one or other party feeling unable to make decisions or deal with the process due to their emotional state. This contributes to bigger fees and therefore causes more distress all round, as well as prolonging the process itself.

Getting appropriate emotional support (such as professional counselling or even just talking through the issues with friends) is therefore an investment, helping to keep down fees, as well as easing the process for yourself. Barker Gotelee can suggest appropriate therapists to help at this difficult time.

Solicitors in Ipswich – Click here to contact our divorce solicitors or ask about our mediation service.

Nicola Furmston is a solicitor specialising in the family field at Barker Gotelee, Solicitors in Ipswich.