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8 Simple Tips to Control the Cost of Your Divorce

08th December 2009
By Tim Bishop in Divorce
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Good family law solicitors understand that not only is divorce very painful, but it can prove very expensive too. Apart from the fact that two households are more expensive to run than one, legal bills can escalate. However, if you follow these simple tips, you can help keep your legal costs down.

1. Get ready for your first meeting.

If you intend to divorce your spouse, it will save your solicitor's time and your cash if you turn up at your first meeting with a brief written summary of your circumstances, and include the facts set out below. Your solicitor will then not need to spend time getting those basic details from you:

- Your full name and address.

- Your date of birth.

- The full name of your spouse.

- The details of any children you have - their names and ages.

- A rough summary of your family's financial position, including details of any property, its rough value and any debt outstanding on it, details of any pensions, savings, shares, endowment policies or other investments, and any other family assets or debts.

2. Obtain your marriage certificate.

If you plan to file for divorce, provide for your solicitor either the original marriage certificate or a certified copy obtainable from your local Registry Office.

3. Obtain a valuation of your own pension.

A pension can be on of the biggest assets a family possesses. Your pension is taken into account when looking at family assets and considering how they should be split between the two of you. Your solicitor will always need an up-to-date valuation of your pension. A simple letter from you to your pension company asking for its current transferable value will save you money.

4. Get hold of your own financial documents.

When preparing to negotiate your financial settlement, your solicitor will need to see many documents. Find out from your solicitor what is needed in your case - the list is likely to include:

- A valuation of your house if you own it; we suggest you get hold of 3 (often free) market valuations from local estate agents.

- A statement of mortgage redemption from your mortgage company.

- Bank statements for the last year.

- Your P60 and 3 recent payslips.

- Your latest credit card statement and redemption statements for any HP/loan agreements you may have.

- Details of any substantial asset you may own (e.g.shares, life insurance policy etc).

5. Complete Form E.

Form E is a very lengthy document required by the court in a set format listing full details of family financial position. By completing as much as you can yourself and by getting for your solicitor as much supporting documentation as you are able, you can reduce your legal costs. You should be aware that you must keep strictly to the various notes on Form E as to which documents are needed.

6. Promptly reply to any correspondence without being reminded.

Remember that your solicitor will charge you for all the letters they write and phone calls they make on your behalf, so keeping the number of these down will help reduce your final bill.

7. Find out from your solicitor if there is anything else that you yourself can do.

8. Make sure you choose a specialist and experienced family law solicitor.

Picking a solicitor who specialises in divorce and has plenty of experience should keep your bill down. Avoid solicitors, however cheap they may seem, who don't really know what they're doing - by picking someone without experience or family law specialisation you may end up paying a lot more in the long-term.


Tim Bishop is senior partner of Bonallack & Bishop, a firm of solicitors in Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire with a large number of specialist Divorce Solicitors. Tim has spearheaded the firm's expansion, seeing it grow by 1000% in the last 12 years. He is responsible for major and strategic decisions and sees himself as an entrepreneur who owns a law firm.
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