Another horror story about the legal costs of divorce. In this case the divorcing couple had assets of £1.76 million, but spent £2.3 million on legal fees.
How can this happen I hear you cry. We will never know for sure whether it was one of the couple or both of them who were so litigious, or to what extent their lawyers could have prevented this. I am pleased to say that none of my clients have ever incurred anywhere near these costs, despite regularly helping clients with more assets than the £1.76 million in this case.
Here are some reasons for soaring legal costs, and how you might prevent them:-
1) You might feel that your spouse has treated you badly and understandably want a fight or justice through the Courts. This approach costs a lot in legal fees, usually with little gain. Courts are rarely concerned with people's behaviour, and just want to get the assets divided, based on needs or sharing.
2) You might want focus on the detail due to a desire to achieve fairness. While getting the detail right is important, very rarely is absolute fairness is achieved, so it's important to keep things proportionate. Although an approach might be fair, it doesn't mean that it's advisable to pursue it if it's going to cost almost as much or more in legal fees than any gain that might be achieved.
3) Stick to the issues. In going through a divorce, you are stuck with a number of different legal processes to choose from. It's generally more cost effective to accept the processes available and work within them, rather than fighting them or trying to find an alternative way.
4) Lawyers might be unecessarily aggressive and fan the flames between the couple, for example by making personal comments about their client's spouse in correspondence, or becoming personally invested to a great extent. Find a lawyer who takes their responsibility around this very seriously.
5) Sometimes people just seem so bitter or angry that they will do anything they can to try to hurt their spouse, such as taking them to Court about absolutely everything. Sometimes people seem to prefer to do this than think about the legal fees this incurs. If this is the case, and you are 'on the other side' I would suggest trying as far as possible to consider things on the basis that the other person is doing this; stick to your own agenda rather than meeting them in the fight or taking the same approach as them out of understandable anger, frustration or a sense of injustice.
I hope that's helpful. If you want any advice about how to try to keep costs down when going through a divorce, please don't hesitate to give me a call.
The lawyers are the only beneficiaries of a “nihilistic” divorce dispute that has cost £2.3m in legal fees, with the couple’s children the main losers, a High Court judge has ruled.