A High Court judge has urged a couple involved in a long-running divorce dispute over finances to try to settle the case to avoid further costs, which already run into the millions. Concluding his judgment in Goddard-Watts v Goddard-Watts Mr Justice Holman said: “I … most earnestly urge the parties to enter into serious negotiations and find an early basis for settlement, so that the vortex of profligate spending and mutual destruction finally ends.”
But how do you avoid such destructive litigation? How do you keep your divorce costs to a minimum?
Well, here are five things that you can do:
1. Obviously, and as Mr Justice Holman suggested, you should try to settle matters by agreement, if possible. This means both putting forward reasonable proposals, and responding to any reasonable proposals that the other party may make. In another recent case, a husband was criticised by the judge for failing to respond in a timely fashion to a settlement proposal made by the wife.
2. Do not be unnecessarily confrontational. Obviously, there can be a lot of animosity surrounding a divorce, but you should endeavour to avoid confrontation when trying to sort out the divorce settlement. Unnecessary confrontation can seriously diminish the chances of agreeing matters. Yes, there are times when you must ‘stand up for yourself’, but in general you should put your feelings to one side and adopt a constructive approach.
3. Consider mediation. If you are unable to reach agreement with your spouse through negotiation, consider going to mediation. Mediation is a process whereby an independent trained mediator will help the parties try to reach an agreement. (Note that mediation is completely voluntary, and not all cases are suitable, for example, most cases where there has been domestic violence.)
4. Be realistic. Many cases fail to settle simply because one or both of the parties have unrealistic expectations as to their entitlement. Of course, it is not always easy to know what is realistic and what is not. That is where our last recommendation comes in:
5. Get a good lawyer, and follow their advice. This is where we can help. Family Law Cafe can put you in touch with an expert family lawyer who will be able to advise you on your entitlement, and who will help you to reach an agreed settlement, by adopting a constructive, non-confrontational approach, wherever possible. To book a free initial consultation with us click the green button at the top of this page and fill in the form, or call us on 020 3904 0506.
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Family Law Cafe offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.