With over 40% of current marriages expected to end in divorce, most of us have or will experience the negative emotional and financial effects of divorce.
Family law solicitor and divorce expert, Sheata Karim, offers some insider tips on how to reduce the cost of divorce proceedings.
Divorce is a distressing process as not only must you cope with the emotional turmoil of a separation, but also the financial burdens that come with it through solicitor’s fees and court charges.
Many people turn to anonymous websites that claim to offer divorces for ludicrously low prices and then are stung with costly court hearings when issues regarding child contact or financial settlements arise.
If you wouldn’t let a cheap DIY website arrange your wedding, why would you let them have control of your divorce?
Family law solicitors are experts in all areas of divorce and separation and can guide you through the process to help you obtain the outcome you deserve – but such legal expertise comes at a price.
Read on to find out how you can obtain a legitimate and legally binding divorce, yet still making sure that you reduce the cost of divorce.
Avoid court trials
This is the first and most obvious tip as court cases can be both lengthy and costly affairs. There are a variety of out-of-court solutions – such as mediation or collaborative law – that will resolve disputes regarding child matters or financial issues, and will also save you the cost of court and barrister’s fees.
Be aware of your spend
All solicitors require ‘money on account’ before they begin work on your case. This is normal, but you should always stress that you wish to be notified when you are nearing the end of your credit. Some solicitors may continue working on your case and then you may be surprised with a larger-than-anticipated bill at the end.
Watch out for hidden costs
Should you have to go to court then you must remember to enquire about what court costs you will have to pay on top of the solicitor’s fees. All courts charge a fixed amount for every case, which is currently £410 for a divorce petition or £215 for Child Act applications (i.e. contact or residence).
Solicitor, not counsellor
Your solicitor is a trained professional who is there to support and defend you legally. This may seem a harsh statement, but they are not your counsellor so do not tell them your life story or seek emotional comfort from them – it will save you a lot of money in the long run.
You pay solicitors by the hour for their expertise so get the most out of your time by only focussing on the practicalities of your case. The sooner the legal process is finished, the sooner the healing process can start.
Do your own admin
Most solicitors will be happy for you to fill in some of your documentation yourself, which will save you money as you will only pay for the solicitor to check the forms and make recommendations. Some of the administration work for the divorce process can be time consuming but it can, therefore, also be a cost-effective measure to do it yourself.
Be your own private investigator
There are five grounds to divorce, some of which require evidence or proof. Your solicitor can hire a private investigator on your behalf but it can be much cheaper and quicker if you source your own evidence yourself in the form of a photograph, text conversation or voice recording, for example. You must be careful though, as stalking and secretly filming are illegal.
Sheata Karim is the Principal Solicitor and Founder of Grayfords, a family law firm based in central London.
After over a decade of working in family and niche law firms, Sheata used her expertise and specialist knowledge to start her own practice.
Sheata created her own firm so that she could instil her values of client care and satisfaction into every area of the business. Her motto is to envisage yourself in the perfect future, and that is what she will help you achieve.
With experience in all areas of English and international family law – including divorce, financial issues and child matters – Sheata really is an expert in her field.