As the cost of living crisis continues to unfold, the Bank of England has warned that inflation could hit 10% this year which will mean the consumer prices index will be at its highest levels since the 1980s.
These figures and other similar news stories will understandably be cause for concern for many people, particularly those who may be experiencing divorce or separation as that process will generally involve some cost. There are however a few ways you can help make the separation process easier and avoid incurring unnecessary legal fees which we have suggested below.
- Communication is key
Providing it is appropriate and safe to do so in the circumstances, keep the lines of communication open with your ex-partner. The more you are able to agree with each other directly, the less need there will be for ongoing involvement from professionals such as family lawyers or mediators. If you are able to discuss matters amicably with your ex, you may only require legal support to formalise what you have agreed therefore limiting the amount of cost involved.
- Get advice
As soon as you feel able to , take advice from a specialist lawyer so that you know your rights and what to expect. Many lawyers offer an initial meeting at a discounted cost. This can help you decide on the best way forward for you.
- Work effectively with your lawyer
It can be helpful to have a discussion at the outset about whether there are any parts of the work you might feel able to do yourself and which parts your lawyer can assist you with. At FM Family Law, we are happy to consider offering an unbundled service in appropriate cases which means that we advise in the background whilst you manage the case yourself and decide as and when you require our input. You could also break the work down into sections and agree with your lawyer what needs to be undertaken in advance so the costs are easier to manage.
The method of communication between you and your lawyer can also play a key part in the costs involved so if you are conscious about this, explore what method of communication might be most appropriate and effective in your situation. For example, this could be keeping communications to email, discussing issues over the phone or video call, or meeting in person.
- Consider alternative dispute resolution
Alternative dispute resolution is a way of resolving the issues arising out of your divorce or separation without the need to go to court, which can often involve potentially substantial costs and delay. The main options available include family mediation, arbitration and collaborative law. We discuss these options in more detail in this article here. At FM Family Law, we have trained Resolution Family Mediators, collaboratively trained lawyers and extensive experience in resolving matters through arbitration so we can support couples through whichever resolution option suits them best.
There is a Family Mediation Voucher Scheme currently running which provides a financial contribution of up to £500 towards the costs of mediation for eligible parties. More information about the scheme can be found here.
- Establish a wider support network
We recognise that divorce and separation can often be a challenging time and, whilst your family lawyer is available to support you, having a separate outlet for your emotions is important and would be more cost effective. It will also enable your lawyer to focus their time on advising on legal issues and strategy. We encourage establishing a wider support network and accessing emotional support whether this is from friends and family or a counsellor or divorce coach. We are able to signpost you to a range of support services should you wish to get more information.
- Approach the discussions with a more positive mind set
Time is one of the biggest factors that affects the cost of a divorce. The longer the deliberations take, the longer any lawyer you may instruct will be working with you. It is advisable to keep your emotions out of the negotiations as this could cloud your judgement and draw out the process unnecessarily. It can help to speak to trusted friends and family members or access professional support to put those issues into perspective and gain a better understanding as to what might be preventing you from moving forward.
If you would like to speak with one of our family lawyers, please contact us here or by phone – Norwich (01603 443333 ), Cambridge (01223 355333).
Note: The content of this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken in any specific circumstance.