Divorce is not an easy journey for many couples when there are important decisions to be agreed over financial assets and potentially children. So achieving the right outcomes are essential. With the support of a good Divorce Solicitor, potential pitfalls can be overcome and the stress involved in ending your marriage or civil partnership be minimised.
Pointers to consider for when choosing your Divorce Solicitor
Instructing a Solicitor to act on your behalf is a major decision. So where do you start in choosing your Solicitor?
Check out below our checklist for directing you in making the right choice:
Most Solicitors will offer ½ – 1 hour free consultation with a prospective client, to allow you both to gauge what type of support you need, the complexity or simplicity of your case, what outcomes you wish to achieve and most importantly if you feel you can have a rapport with your Divorce Solicitor.
Depending on what is at stake, you may require a Solicitor with experience in family law, with financial complex matters including businesses or pensions, injunctions and mediation. You will be able to obtain this insight during your initial consultation.
If you feel your divorce may be more amicable and you have both decided to resolve and agree your terms outside of the court, then a ‘Collaborative Lawyer’ who is trained in family law may a solution for you.
A friend or work colleague may be able to make a recommendation to a Solicitor, if they have either used their services or work in the legal sector.
Code of Practice and Accreditations
Ask the Divorce Solicitor about their qualifications as all credible Solicitors will be registered with the Law Society.
Alongside this, they may have specific accreditations depending on their specialism; Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer, Member of Resolution adhering to the Resolution Code of Practice, Trained Mediator or qualified Barrister.
Be clear at the start on what you expect from their services. Ascertain if you will have one contact throughout the process or be passed onto someone more junior. If your divorce is likely to be simple and amicable then there could be cost benefits with two contacts where for others it is not a comfortable relationship to accept.
Find out how you will be kept updated with progress and be able to track your costs; email, meetings or phone and the associated costs with this.
It’s important you can both clearly communicate with each other and you are not bamboozled with jargon over important decisions.
Solicitors tend to charge hourly rates or some may offer fixed fees depending on your circumstances. Be aware of what is known as ‘disbursements’ which will include VAT and court application fees, some which are mandatory and others depending on what you are filing for i.e. consent orders.
Terms for payment could be monthly or there may be flexibility to agree other terms depending on your circumstances, as well as eligibility for legal aid.
Read carefully the ‘Terms and Conditions’ outlining these costs and services.
What to expect from your Solicitor throughout the divorce proceedings
Your Divorce Solicitor will be representing you throughout the process right through to your Divorce Absolute when you marriage is officially dissolved, so it’s crucial you have chosen wisely. Aspects which they will support you with will cover:
a) Support and advice
- With their experience and expertise in the legal setting, your Solicitor will ensure you have the right advice and support to make informed decisions. For instance, you have made:
- the right grounds for divorce in your divorce petition,
- sound financial decisions to meet your current and future needs,
- decisions in the best interest of your children and for yourself and the right decision to meet your outcomes which are both in your best interest and which the court is likely to agree to.
During the divorce process, there is an abundance of mandatory paperwork (Divorce Petition, Decree Absolute and Decree Nisi etc ) to submit on your behalf which needs to be both accurate and submitted within specific timeframes.
You may also require additional applications to be issued to the court about crucial decisions which could involve court hearings. For instance if there are children involved and you are unable to agree their education or contact then you may need to file a ‘Specific Issue’ or a ‘Contact Order’.
c) Representing you at Court Hearings
If particular decisions are unable to be agreed between the couple, then it may involve court hearings. Your Solicitor will support and represent you in front of the Judge and depending on the application, they may even defend you as you will need clear rational arguments.