In a recent judgment Mr Justice Mostyn, the lead judge of the Financial Remedies Court, which deals with financial disputes on divorce, warned that divorce litigation is becoming unaffordable for all but the rich.
The warning came in the course of a financial remedies divorce case that Mr Justice Mostyn described as “very straightforward”. Despite this, the parties incurred costs in the extraordinary amount of £1,670,380, or 5% of the total assets.
This situation led Mr Justice Mostyn to say that: “A … litigant does not have true access to justice if it is unaffordable; if it is … only open to all like the Ritz Hotel. Financial remedy litigation seems to be fast heading for Ritz Hotel status – so expensive that it is only accessible by the very rich.”
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
There are ways of keeping your legal costs down, even if you do have to go to court.
One of the most important things to do is to keep track of your spending. At Family Law Cafe we agree a flat monthly fee, once we have worked out how complex your case is. If you want to, you can pay at a discount for a 6 month block of our work.
And if at any stage you need extra experts we source them for you, give you choices and prices and ensure they only do what is absolutely necessary for you.
There are no hidden costs.
Alternatively, you can keep your legal costs to a minimum by doing some of the work yourself, as much or as you feel comfortable with. In this case we will oversee the case and make sure you know how to do the work effectively.
Of course the best way to keep costs down is to avoid going to court at all.
And there are two main ways in which you can avoid going to court: agreeing the matter, or going to arbitration.
The matter can be agreed directly with the other party, through lawyers, or via mediation, whereby a trained mediator will help you try to reach an agreement. Mediation is purely voluntary.
Arbitration is a process whereby the parties agree to refer the case to a trained arbitrator, who will decide the case, and be bound by the arbitrator’s decision.
Note that any agreed or arbitrated settlement will have to be made into a court order, to ensure that it is legally binding. It is normally possible, however, to obtain such an order without having to attend court.
In short, going to court to sort out finances on divorce can be extremely expensive, but it doesn’t have to be that way, and we can help you to keep the costs to a minimum.
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You can contact us for advice and guidance with no obligation. We can work with you to provide the best outcome in your family law matter.