How To Save Money On A Divorce
It is very important is that people are aware how much divorces (specifically resolving the finances) can cost. It is scarily easy for a normal family, with say assets of £100,000 to £300,000 including the equity in their house, to spend 10 to 20% of their entire wealth arguing through their lawyers about how to split their assets on divorce. That is a terrible waste and will leave them far worse off than they need to be. Often it is entirely their own fault because they are so committed to getting the result they each want that they do not behave rationally or listen to advice. Sometimes the costs can be forced on them if their spouse is not being frank and honest in disclosure and they need the help of their lawyers to get to the bottom of things. For others though the cost lies firstly in the disclosure process, which is entirely necessary but expensive and not really a legal function, and secondly in paying their lawyers to sort out their finances for them once disclosure has taken place. Here are some ideas on how to save money on this part of the process:
Most solicitors will use a computer program called Quantum (from Class Legal) to prepare your Form E. There is a client version of this which can be downloaded free of charge from the publisher’s website (www.quantumclient.co.uk). Check first whether your solicitor has Quantum Premium and if so download and use the client version to do your draft Form E, which you then email to your solicitor. This will help your solicitor, which in turn will keep costs down.
Spend time on your Form E and make it as accurate as you can before you give it to your solicitor to refine. Make sure that what they are doing is refining as opposed to starting from scratch.
Don’t expect your solicitor to accept everything you have put in Form E. They are not paid to agree with you, but to help you present the information in the best possible light.
Once Forms E are exchanged there is a huge sense of relief. Then you will think great that it is done but then what? Well, you have to read your ex-partner’s Form E and accompanying documents and examine then critically. Your solicitor will do likewise and together you will come up with a series of questions highlighting any defects and omissions in your ex-partner’s Form E. A very valuable process - sometimes. But please be realistic. If on exchange of Forms E everything looks about right then query whether it is worth asking for missing sheet 101 from a bank account which has £1.20 in it – is it really worth spending the costs involved on both sides? This additional question stage can be a complete waste of time, so be wary if by and large you think your partner will be honest and there is nothing obviously missing.
These suggestions will help to keep the costs down. They may be time consuming for you but sadly you are getting divorced – and for a while it will feel like that is a full time job. (Alternatively you could use Intelligent Divorce which takes you through the disclosure process in a much easier way than using Form E and avoids lawyers doing something which you can do yourself. But if you are a ‘receipts in a shoebox’ kind of person you may need a solicitor to help!)