Legal Fees Leaping?
Divorce is an expensive business! Not least of the many costs that divorce throws up is your legal bill. Learning how to manage this cost and getting the very best value for your money is crucial, no matter how inexpensive your solicitor and no matter how big your budget.
The first step is to use a good solicitor who will offer you top rate legal advice appropriately and help you manage your budget by highlighting what you can do yourself and when you would be better off seeking help or support elsewhere.
Solicitors charge in a number of ways; most commonly they have an hourly charge which they divide up into six minute slots. So, for each piece of work you will be charged a minimum of 1/10th of the hourly rate, even if it is a quick response to a text message! Make sure you check how you will be charged and at what rate.
Top tips on getting the most from your legal bill:
1) Instruct your solicitor clearly.
Many people start the divorce process believing that a solicitor will handle everything; this can be a very expensive assumption. You need to be in control of what your solicitor does. Make sure you understand the process, take their advice and then instruct them in a clear and concise manner with a specific goal in mind.
2) Use your solicitor for legal advice only.
It is common advice not to use your solicitor for emotional support but it is even more common to find that we all do it! Sometimes this can be a grey area, you may start off seeking advice on your legal position regarding child contact for example and you could then easily drift into the impact your ex has on how you feel about this issue. Try to be forensic about what you want to know from your solicitor and limit it to the legal process. In this example, "What are my rights and how do I enforce them?"
Seek therapy or of course, a divorce coach for everything else.
3) Be careful about the quantity of your correspondence.
Be canny about how your communicate and group your queries into one letter/mail.
It may be helpful to think about whether you really need legal advice on any particular issue.
Or if you already know the answer and just need somebody to ratify your decision? Again, this approach could prove expensive.
4) Do what you can yourself.
Take your solicitor's advice on this but completing forms for the court, checking the opposing side's submissions, even dealing with the court can all be done by you. This will save you money but also give you a greater sense of control in terms of what is happening with the divorce.
5) Attendance at court.
Assuming you will not represent yourself in court, you will probably need a barrister. Many solicitors will also offer to attend, take legal advice and think about if this is necessary.
Your barrister may prefer that a solicitor attends but it is quite a significant extra cost, so, it is worth checking their requirements when you instruct.
6) Minimise the emotion
Try to be forensic and precise about what you need to achieve.
It is extremely easy to become emotional and fire off solicitor's letters to your ex on all sorts of issues. This can really add to your overall bill. Always ask yourself, "how does this help me achieve my goal?" If it doesn't play a clear part, do not bother.
Finally, remember that legal fees are probably necessary when divorcing. A good solicitor is invaluable and will represent your interests as you go through one of life's most difficult experiences. Use them wisely and supplement their expertise with a divorce coach to help and advise you where necessary.
If you have any tips on how to save on legal fees, please share them in the comments.