There’s been a lot in the news recently about sky high fees paid by couples as part of particularly acrimonious court battles. As with all media reports about divorce they tend to relate to a minority of people – who are usually wealthy – rather than the majority of people who separate and divorce. But how much a divorce will cost you is one of the first questions that people want to know the answer to. It’s an important part of the problem solving about what happens next, because both parties need to know how much money there will be for them to each map out their new chapter.
A quick Google search throws up headlines about divorce costing upwards of £70,000, and various other reports about huge legal fees. Here at LKW Family Mediation we would urge everyone to give some thought to “how much do I want to spend on my legal fees?”. There really is no rule that says you have to spend a certain amount or that any amount is a ‘given’. If you both want to spend as little as possible on legal fees then hatch a plan to do just that. It means there will be more money left for both of you.
To offer a comparison between mediation and these epic court battles we keep reading about, mediation with us involves each party attending an initial meeting on their own, followed by an average of 3 to 5 joint 1.5 hour meetings. If you had 5 joint meetings the cost would be £2,000 in total for both of you (not each of you). You can even make it a bit cheaper by choosing one of our fixed price packages. Other mediators costs may be slightly less or slightly more, but will broadly be in line with that figure.
As part of the mediation process you may have a couple of meetings with a lawyer to get some advice. You may also instruct a lawyer to finalise the resolution you come up with together. For having three hours worth of legal advice and having a lawyer prepare a consent order you will pay something in the region of £1,700 to £2,000 each. You can choose to have more or less legal advice depending on what feels right for you. If you’re confident in what you’re discussing you may feel any legal advice is unnecessary.
We would also suggest that there are other costs of divorce beyond the financial. Parental separation is not in itself a cause of difficulties in children. The conflict between their parents is what causes emotional, behavioural and even physical health problems in children. So the more you can keep the temperature of your separation down the better off your children will be, and the better off you will each be financially. That sounds like a better scenario doesn’t it?
It is at this point that many people will be thinking words to the effect of “well I’d like to do that and keep the temperature down but the other party is so unreasonable”. There is an idea that in the same way it takes two to tango, it takes two to decide this divorce will not be a battle and there is an element of truth in that. However, we would suggest that very few people make a decision to be as difficult as possible when going through a divorce. Often a person perceived as being difficult is shouting something that is not being heard. They may be struggling to come to terms with the breakdown of the marriage, they may be deeply and hugely fearful for their future. Mediation can be hugely beneficial in helping each party hear what is going on for the other party. This alone can help to iron out difficulties in finding a way forward.
It may also be that both parties need some further assistance to move forward. Some counselling or therapy can be helpful. In other cases a family consultant can help a family stuck in conflict to move forward and find a different path. People can often be concerned about spending money on other experts and see a mounting bill of costs that will affect what they’re able to do in the future. We suggest looking at it a different way. If a huge court battle can cost you tens of thousands of pounds. Then spending a few hundred pounds on not having that battle represents a very big saving. That saving may also not just be a financial one but one that amounts to everybody involved’s well being.