Over the last 15 years or so, the divorce process has changed enormously. Here are some of the key steps that can now be taken to save money on legal fees:
1. Since April 2022 and the introduction of ‘no fault divorce’, applying for divorce can be made online at the government website. The process is straightforward, and it is no longer necessary to pay a solicitor to do this.
2. The parties can also save money on legal fees by agreeing the financial settlement and children arrangements between themselves.
3. If the parties can’t agree between themselves, then the next best way to resolve matters is often through mediation. In this case a third party, a ‘mediator’ helps the parties reach agreement.
4. There are lots of mediators to choose from and the choice of mediator is very important. The parties should check the mediator’s credentials and experience. Before committing to them, the parties should individually have a conversation with the mediator to help judge that they feel comfortable with the mediator and that there is a ‘fit’.
5. To finalise and make any agreement binding (whether reached directly between the parties or in mediation), a court order is required. This is normally a rubber-stamping exercise dealt with remotely. Attendance at court is not necessary.
6. If the parties can’t reach agreement themselves or by mediation, then it is possible to save money by both parties instructing the same solicitor.
This is a recently introduced process called ‘one solicitor two clients’.
7. To help the parties understand the legal position, it is also possible for them to consult the same barrister. The barrister will evaluate the situation and express a view as to the likely outcome if their case were to be determined by a court. This is called a ‘neutral evaluation’.
8. If a party is going to end up in court, then they can save money by dispensing with a solicitor and just having a barrister. Not all cases or clients are suitable for this process, but it is worth considering. This is called ‘direct access’.
We are a team of 5 experienced lawyers but, what makes us different to a firm of solicitors, is that we are acting as divorce consultants. We help people navigate the legal maze and stop them making expensive mistakes. We use our experience of the divorce process to find solutions, lower the temperature and stop people wasting their money.
If you know of someone who may benefit from speaking to us, please tell them to contact me. We do not charge for an initial consultation.