They say marriage is grand – sadly, divorce is twenty grand (or more).

But if you’re like most middle class taxpayers you don’t have twenty grand to spend on lawyers. So just what are your legal options?

After over 20 years of experience as a family lawyer, I recommend an approach, for all my clients, which I like to call the Kitchen Table Divorce Option. So what is it all about?

It’s all about learning the right ingredients to beat the high legal cost of divorce and separation by representing yourself, even if your spouse can afford his or her full time family lawyer. Knowing when to make use of legal advice, and legal alternatives ie mediation and collaborative divorce, is critical, and so is being properly prepared.

But is it really possible to represent yourself and survive? You bet! All you need to do is to ask one of my many clients.

So why the reference to the Kitchen Table? Because traditionally the kitchen is where you can find all the right tools and ingredients, while the kitchen table is where everything comes together to create a successful recipe, or in our case, your own self made divorce.

The Kitchen Table (or for that matter any other table) is also the place where I suggest the parties initially meet to discuss and attempt to resolve any differences. That’s, of course, only an option if there is not a history of abuse or violence.

Some helpfull tips to start. Firstly, create a checklist of items that you would like to discuss and be sure to exchange with your spouse beforehand, ( ask if there other items that your spouse would like to address). A very good idea before the meeting is to obtain some legal advice about your rights and responsibilities. The lawyer can also help with the checklist and explain common but often misunderstood legal expressions ie joint custody which can otherwise create huge problems.

Secondly, resist the urge to agree on any financial numbers ie the price to purchase your interest in the family home or for that matter any other value. That’s because your spouse will inevitably take the position (after you find out that you literally gave away the farm – before you got legal advice) that you are now breaking your “promise” to her. Believe me when I say this can also cause headaches.

Thirdly, resist the temptation to sign anything, before getting independent legal advice, even if it looks like a smokin deal!! If you ignore this advice, you may find that you are legally trapped into an arrangement which you can’t get out of!

Last words – in my future blogs I’ll share some of my other legal insight and tips to show you how to make kitchen table divorce work for you.