Why divorce costs sometimes escalate

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Every now and then you have probably read in your daily newspaper about a divorce case where legal costs in six or even seven figures have been racked up. These usually tend to be the high profile cases that involve celebrities or wealthy business people, particularly where one party has successfully accumulated hugely valuable assets.


When wealthy couples engage teams of solicitors and barristers to fight over multi-million-pound assets, it is inevitable that their fees and court costs will add up to a large amount if the couple are unable to agree a settlement. However, in 2008, one couple fought a futile battle over a smaller amount and ended up spending everything on legal costs.

In a more recent case where settlement was difficult, apparently due to some stubbornness on both sides, the Judge bemoaned the fact that the legal costs not far off £1m amounted to about one-third of the assets the divorcing couple were arguing over. This all highlights the advantage of compromise and avoidance of lengthy court cases.

Earlier this year, the popular sports personality Gary Lineker went public with his views on divorce costs following the termination of his second marriage. He blamed the legal profession for situations where large amounts of costs accrue, revealing that he had used a low-cost alternative when dealing with his second divorce.

There may indeed be big city lawyers that specialise in handling the legal affairs of the rich and famous and charging fees that reflect their exclusivity, but in our firm’s experience the biggest contributor to the accumulation of costs is the unwillingness of some couples to meet in the middle somewhere and reach a sensible compromise.

Cases that cannot be resolved between the divorcing couple may end up in court and that is where the costs inevitably escalate, as their solicitors’ hours multiply. This is why in many cases our favoured approach is collaborative law or other ‘alternative dispute resolution’, where a settlement may be reached more swiftly with less cost and stress.

Ultimately, what is important is finding the right solicitor; someone who charges reasonable fees and deals with matters in a practical and efficient way.




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