Getting divorced can be expensive. Follow these 5 tips to keep your costs down and build your best case.
Good divorce lawyers don’t like seeing clients spend more than they need to on legal fees. One way to stop this happening is to think about how we work together. These tips are based on what, in my experience, can help keep a case on track and in budget.
1. Start with a summary
The best way you can prepare for our first meeting, whether we are helping you resolve your finances or with arrangements for your children, is to prepare a summary. The more information we have, the faster we can shape and progress your case. Getting organised can also help give you a sense of control at an uncertain time.
A summary of your assets, income and spending should answer the following questions:
- Assets – What is my house worth? If I have a pension, what is that worth? What savings do I have?
- Income – What do I earn in an average year? Is this likely to change in the near future? Is there any uncertainty in what I earn, such as unpredictable bonuses?
- Spending – What did I spend each month for the last 6 months? Is there anything unusual in that spending – such as a particularly extravagant holiday – or is it representative of my general spending? Looking over credit and debit card bills can help you do this. Also consider who pays for things like household bills or school fees and who will pay them in the future.
Once you have done this, try to also answer these questions about your partner’s finances.
What is best for your children will be at the heart of all discussions about their future. Start by telling us about them – how old they are, where they live and go to school, their relationships with you and your partner – so we get a sense of what matters most for them.
2. Trust our timing
Every case is different but we will always tell you what you can broadly expect, what needs to be done and when.
Whilst it is tempting to plan your detailed route to the finish line, especially when you just want things to be over, jumping ahead can make things more complicated and more costly. Staying focused on the task in hand – whether that is drafting a statement about why your children should live with you or asking the right questions about what your partner could earn if they went back to work – is crucial to a strong and efficiently run case.
3. Time is money
Many people have never used lawyers before and so do not know that each email, letter and phone call costs money. To use your money wisely, we need to find the best way of communicating for you.
If you like to have everything in writing, we will advise you mostly via email. If you need to talk things through to make sense of them, then we will speak more than we will write. If you like to consider things over the weekend, or hate receiving things on a Friday afternoon, we will work around that wherever we can. We work for you so tell us what you need to get the most out of us.
4. When we say tell us everything, REALLY tell us everything
Whether we are dealing with your family finances or issues relating to your children, family law involves talking about personal issues. We understand that can be difficult, particularly if we ask you about things you may not discuss with your friends or family, but it is worth it. Family proceedings have a way of bringing things out into the open and we can only advise on things we know about.
We build your best case by knowing exactly what we are facing. We don’t want you to spend hours getting to the bottom of an issue when you could have saved money by discussing it openly with us three weeks earlier. This might sound daunting but remember: we are on your side and what we discuss, save in exceptional circumstances, is confidential and privileged.
5. Trust us - we are on your side
Remember that we are your lawyers and we are on your side throughout your case. If we ask you challenging questions, it is not because we don’t believe what you are telling us. It is because we want to consider your case from all angles to find the best one. If we give you advice that wasn’t what you wanted to hear, it is not because we don’t want to achieve what you want. It is because we may not be able to get there that way and so we need to consider a different strategy.
How to get the best outcome for you and your family is our priority. Building our working relationship on that basis not only results in you having a stronger case – because we can be direct and honest with each other - it also means your costs are likely to be lower.