Asset division during divorce has the potential to spark all-out war, the emotional, financial and sentimental nature of the negotiations taking place can see rationale and reason replaced with vitriol and vengeance, especially when there is a wealth of shared assets at stake or the marriage has ended on particularly unpleasant terms.

In any case where both parties are paying for legal representation, it’s important to always consider proportionality. Proportionality is the comparison of the assets in the case to the legal costs, and in the context of divorce proceedings essentially boils down to, is this really worth it?

There was a case last week in the Daily Mail in which an estranged couple are currently locked in a bitter legal battle over their £10m in combined assets. So far, legal costs have exceeded £1.5m, that’s 15% of their wealth spent on an argument which is yet to be resolved.

Not surprisingly, their actions have been heavily criticised by the High Court Judge, urging for the couple to negotiate, saying ”I have come across litigation that loses all sense of costs proportionality but I have rarely come across it on this scale. This is crazy.”

Whilst legal costs to this extent are an exception rather than the norm, it doesn’t change the fact that for many separating couples, these personal disputes can lead to financial burden. It’s vital the clients know precisely what the costs are likely to be, how costs are calculated and more importantly, what they can do to keep costs from escalating. Clients should also be advised as to how they can keep costs down by resolving some of the smaller issues between themselves.

Whilst I’m sure they both believe the ends will ultimately justify the means, a dispute on this scale is unlikely to be resolved through prolonged litigation. In cases like this, the couple needs to take a step back and re-evaluate what they want from the proceedings, are they motivated to achieve the best outcome for themselves or the worst outcome for their other half?

When I see a client hit a road block in their divorce, I always stress the importance of not letting emotion dictate your decision making, but to instead go in with a commercial mind-set, seeing the process as a negotiation, seeking an outcome that is agreeable for both parties as opposed to attempting to ‘win’ the divorce. Costly, drawn out legal battles rarely benefit either party.

If you’re thinking of obtaining a divorce and you want to find out more information about how we can help, give us a call on 0161 930 5151, e-mail

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