26 July 2013
Sarah Thompson on the importance of keeping a handle on Divorce costs
The Daily Mail reports today that a couple have run up £860,000 in legal fees between them, arguing over which country should hear their divorce and subsequently deal with the division of the marital assets.
The couple, lawyer Aloke Ray and anaesthetist Charoo Sekhri reportedly separated 2 years ago after a 2 year marriage and have a young son. They have a reported wealth of £4m, which means that a quarter of that has been eaten up in lawyers’ fees already and that is before they’ve even started on the legal proceedings to decide on the division of the Marital Assets.
Mr Justice Holman reportedly “begged” the couple to drop the legal battle at a hearing in May this year and referred to it as “financial suicide”. Somewhat ironically, Ray is reportedly a specialist in dispute resolution, which is a method of resolving disputes without going to court – often in an attempt to reduce the costs of litigation.
The wife in this case, Sekhri, issued proceedings in London. The capital is nicknamed “the divorce capital of the world” due to its allegedly generous pay outs to wives. Whilst the couple are both of Indian origin and have properties abroad, Mr Justice Holman allowed Sekhri to issue Divorce proceedings in London because they were domiciled in the UK.
It could be said that the only winners in this case are the lawyers, which begs the question: How can you make sure that what you spend in legal fees is proportionate? One way is to ask your lawyer to do the work on a pre-agreed fixed fee. You can also consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), such as Mediation, collaborative law or arbitration, which can often help couples Separate in a constructive and non-contentious way, thereby helping to keep the costs down both in terms of the financial and the emotional.
By Family Law Solicitor Sarah Thompson