Most family lawyers have a store of notorious stories about clients spending £20,000 to try to recover the £5,000 they are sure their spouse is lying about or the fees for numerous letters back and forth between solicitors, trying to agree which spouse gets to spend Christmas with the family dog.
It is a difficult task explaining to a divorce client to approach their divorce with a rational, impartial mind and to always consider the legal costs of a course of action versus what they are likely to recover at the end.
Unsurprisingly, commercial clients take this on board much more easily than private clients. But then it is easier said than done to be logical about the end of your marriage when in reality your mind is a myriad of emotions, varying from despair to rage.
This difficulty of weighing up costs against outcome is particularly important in the area of financial resolution. I’m aware of a case involving a two-hour hearing with associated costs of £10,000 dedicated solely to trying to agree who keeps which items of furniture, (combined total value of £8,000).
Fighting over the store cards?
Several years ago, the issue of shop loyalty points even made the news. Solicitors have reported legal battles over who keeps their Sainsbury’s Clubcard. Even a couple of hours of a solicitor’s time is likely to outweigh the value of the points on the card. But try telling that to the client who says that it is “a matter of principle”. Sainsbury’s are ahead of the game on this one and their website confirms that they can transfer points from one account to another but apparently require “evidence of how to split the points”.
The moral of the story is to avoid the temptation to enter a full-blown battle with your spouse.
You may want to teach him/her a lesson and you may want your ‘day in court’ but six months down the line with an empty bank account, you will wish that you listened to that rational voice in your head telling you that if you are spending more on fighting than what you will get at the end, it is never worth it.
If you are affected by similar issues or would like to have a related discussion in confidence, please call me on 020 7091 2869 or email email@example.com
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The above is accurate as at 02 September 2020. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.