Author: Katy Zikking

Points of principle, in divorce proceedings, or indeed any legal proceedings, mean that you are taking the case forward to court on the basis that you feel morally ‘in-the-right’. You may intend to (metaphorically) bash your ex-partner over the head on this point, in court, in the hope that a Judge will agree with you on moral grounds in addition to (or quite possibly, rather than) legal ones. The outcome you hope for will be a moral victory.

This victory is unfortunately unlikely to be coupled with any other benefit, either financial or legal.

The general rule of thumb on ‘points of principle’ is that they are very, very, expensive. This thought bears repetition.

Legal advice during a divorce case (or any type of case actually) is always packaged. The wrapping paper is how your case looks on the basis of the costs incurred versus financial benefits received (or likely to be received if you are successful). You have to be seeking a substantial pot of money, otherwise the money you spend on legal fees is not going to be worthwhile. If instead your calculation is based on a point of principle, you may well and usually are, going to be paying a significant sum in legal fees for possibly nothing in return.

The risks are financial and usually ego based. The rewards, for the client, are usually just ego based. With the massive cut in Public Funding (formerly Legal Aid) over the last 10 years this is more relevant than ever before for privately paying clients.

A classic divorce ‘point of principle’ concerns the grounds for the divorce petition. An example may be that the one party in the divorce chooses to allege that the other party committed adultery, which led to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The party being accused cannot bear to have his or her good-name (ego) smeared in this way (whether or not it is true) and therefore begins their own set of divorce proceedings on the grounds of the unreasonable behaviour of the other party. There are then two sets of divorce proceedings running at the same time which need to be resolved, ultimately by a Judge who would then have to decide whose version of events he preferred.

Result: The marriage is over, they both want a divorce but they will now be spending up to a further £5,000.00-£10,000.00 on legal fees, only for a Judge to decide exactly why he or she (a stranger to both parties) believes the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

If you have surplus money to spare on this kind of endeavour, then that is, for lawyers and for you, perfect. However, a long period of reflection would be time well spent. Weigh up whether the money you are about to transfer to your solicitors bank might not be better spent on, well, almost anything. Some ideas. A well-earned holiday? A donation to your favoured Charity? A sabbatical from work? An ego improving retail purchase?

Katy Zikking is a specialist family solicitor. You can contact her now by e-mail at: mail@harbourfamilylaw.co.uk or by calling 01179 055141 or 01275 390458.

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