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Rule no.1 for instructing a family lawyer: keep your costs proportionate

Legal scale with gavel and money

A leading family judge has criticised a couple who spent in excess of £500,000 on legal fees when the main asset of the marriage was a flat worth £298,377. Expressing her dismay Lady Justice King said, “This is yet another case where a highly educated couple with young children has engaged in lengthy, destructive and disproportionate legal proceedings.”


Their dispute was centred on a flat in Panama which the husband purchased off-plan. Despite the couple’s professional background – the wife is a solicitor and the husband works in the City – they were unable to recognise that their legal costs dwarfed the value of their combined assets.

The cost of litigation is not just financial but emotional. The couple separated in 2014 and the case is still ongoing in July 2019. That is 5 years of wrangling and dispute when they could have been on moving forwards with their lives, not to mention the stress for their two children.

At Hodge Jones and Allen we carefully consider which process option is correct for each client. There are many forms of dispute resolution which can be used as an alternative to court including:

  • Mediation – a trained impartial mediator will meet with a couple to help work through the issues.
  • Arbitration – a couple appoint an arbitrator to make a legally binding decision about their dispute.
  • Roundtable meetings – a couple attend meetings with their respective lawyers to negotiate an outcome.
  • Collaborative Law – a couple each instruct a collaboratively trained lawyer and then attend 4 way meetings to resolve the issues.

At Hodge Jones & Allen we can assist you with all of the above. We consider a successful case to be one which is resolved as quickly and cost effectively as possible. If you think you could benefit from our approach, please contact our family department at 0330 822 3451.