Six ways you can save money on legal fees when getting divorced

Has your marriage come to an end? Worried about the expense of separating? Discover six ways you can save money on legal fees when getting divorced.

Although the divorce rate is falling in the UK, the sad truth is that 42% of marriages still end in divorce. And for couples that make the decision to divorce, the cost of the process can take its toll in a financial and emotional sense. 

Many people fear that they will have to grapple with a lower standard of living, at least in the short term, when they get divorced because all financial assets must be divided and it can be a stretch to run two households.  

The divorce process itself can also be expensive – as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are finding out. We’ve all seen headlines where people have been reprimanded in court for foolishly running up legal bills that sometimes match the value of their assets, exemplified by high-profile cases like that of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott, who received a 4% stake in Amazon estimated at a massive $36 billion.

Six ways you can save money on legal fees when getting divorced

With this in mind, here are six simple steps that you can take to ensure that your legal costs are proportionate and that your cash is preserved for your new life after divorce.

1) Consider working with a therapist or divorce coach

If you are struggling to come to terms with your separation, it may be a worthwhile investment to see a therapist or divorce coach before you embark on the legal journey. 

We often find that our clients who have therapeutic support and a strong support network are able to be more assertive in their decision making because they come to us with a clear head and are able to separate emotions about the breakdown of the relationship from decision making. 

In the long run, this will save you money because lengthy divorces are the most expensive and procrastination, conflict and delay increase legal costs. 

2) Choose your solicitor wisely

Like all working relationships, you need to make sure that you choose a solicitor that you can work well with and build a rapport. Seek recommendations from friends and colleagues and if the fit doesn’t feel right consult with another because this will be a long-term relationship which benefits from collaboration and trust.  

3) Get your ducks in a row

Divorce administration is time consuming. You will need to provide your solicitor with all sorts of paperwork including your marriage certificate, 12 months of bank statements, a valuation of your pension, pay slips or tax returns if you are self-employed.

Provide exactly what your solicitor asks for and don’t take offence if what you are asked to provide feels intrusive. The identification and valuation of assets is essential and a valuable part of the process, which should be straightforward. 

Your legal fees could increase significantly if your solicitor has to spend time repeatedly asking you to provide the information that is required.  

4) Listen to your solicitor

Remember that your solicitor is working for you in your best interests and is an expert at what they do. If they recommend something, it will be based on many years’ experience and the advice will be specific to you and your circumstances and designed to achieve the best outcome possible for you.  

Remember that every divorce is different so do not compare your situation with that of friends but if you have questions or do not understand anything your solicitor says, let them know and they will help you make sense of it.

5) Don’t be tempted to have a DIY divorce

While the recent introduction of an online divorce portal has made it possible for couples to sort out their own divorce, this is not advisable. There are many risks involved and if a problem arises it always costs more to try to sort it out than if a solicitor was instructed to advise you. 

For example, there are risks in applying for the Final Order in divorce before your financial claims have been resolved which could negatively affect your financial entitlement. Also, you may not understand the full extent of your financial claims and agree to a financial agreement which doesn’t meet your needs or that of your children.

6) Think twice before emailing your solicitor!

Most solicitors charge an hourly fee so think very carefully before you ping off an email. Your divorce journey will be full of highs and lows so try and take a step back if your former spouse does something which annoys you.

Decide if you can remedy the situation yourself or whether any action is needed. Also, if you can be specific about what help you might need from your solicitor so they can give specific advice when ad hoc matters arise.

The sooner you finalise your divorce, the sooner you can move on

While most people will find the divorce process stressful at times, remember that the sooner your divorce is finalised and a financial agreement is reached, the sooner you will be able to move on and embark on a new life.

Probably the best advice I would give is to avoid making decisions when you are upset and choose a solicitor you feel you can trust.

Read more divorce advice

You can read more advice on ending your relationship and getting a divorce in these articles:

Vanessa Gardiner is a partner in the family team at law firm RWK Goodman.