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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

It pays to negotiate

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We British aren’t very good at negotiating. This is a generalisation but also a generally held belief. Just look at the Money Supermarket ad running on television at the moment with comedian Omid Djalili mocking the English inability to haggle. Many a true word….

Negotiating can save a fortune if you just have the cheek to make an offer. Divorce is not necessarily different.

Going to a divorce solicitor does not necessarily mean going to court. Many couples going through a divorce don’t actually attend court at all. But it takes two to agree a financial settlement and sometimes there is no alternative. However, if you can negotiate an agreement without troubling the court, huge amounts of time and money can be saved – and a lot of emotional stress side-stepped as well.

It is impossible to put a figure on the cost of a divorce. It depends on so many different factors. Generally speaking, though, costs are easier to predict if a client and lawyer together embrace a non-adversarial approach and strive from the outset to negotiate a reasonable and fair agreement. Following this approach you can be reasonably confident that the cost of divorce will be restricted to your own legal bill and that your share of the matrimonial “pot” will not be depleted by major arguments on every issue. In a nutshell, is it really worth spending £10 arguing about £10? Some insist on doing so.

Negotiating a sensible arrangement will often mean that you walk away with more. This is not necessarily because you are a master at driving a hard bargain but simply down to the fact that you will be saving on court costs. So you might get more if you argue over that extra money in court, but the cost of being there is likely to eat into that extra “profit”. And at the end of the day, is it really worth it?

And if you fight for something tooth and nail but end up losing the argument, you are likely to have top pay the costs of the argument.

So my advice is this:

• Negotiate an early sensible financial settlement.

• If it does look like the case is going to go to court, make sensible and fair early offers of settlement. They will protect against accusations of unreasonable dealing with the case and may be accepted.

• Don’t lose sight of your goals. What do you really want out of the settlement? Is it about an amount of psychologically beating a former partner?


Andrew Woolley
Divorce solicitor

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