I am running ‘Suddenly Single’ 1-2-1 sessions & Weekend Retreats at The Nutfield Priory Hotel, for women who find themselves ‘Suddenly Single’ when a relationship ends, that covers legal, financial and parenting advice, & one of the big worries women have is how to find the right legal advice that is right for their personal situation.
For find out more information on our Suddenly Single events click -> here
I am working with Nicky Ingram and Jo Read both experts in their legal and financial fields and here is Nicky’s advice.
A Guide to Choosing the Right Legal Help
Choosing the right divorce lawyer can be confusing and with all the different options available on the internet, choosing the right one for you is not always easy. Your situation will be unique, even though there will be many issues which are common to others, and it is important that you find the right person to work with you.
A good divorce lawyer will help you try to achieve a workable co-parenting relationship. They will help to secure your financial future and unravel the legal standing of your actual marriage. If your ex is unreasonable or aggressive, then you will want your adviser to also have enough experience to best protect you and your interests.
Where do you start and what should you look for?
We have put together the following checklist so that you are able to make the best possible choice.
- Word of Mouth
- Personal recommendations from somebody who has been through a divorce can be very useful. You are looking for someone you can trust to look after your interests and give you sensible objective advice. Speak to family and friends who have been through the divorce process as they will have an insight.
- Look at your adviser’s feedback, client testimonials and check their experience and ethos. Most of the people I assist are referred to me by former clients and other professionals.
- Is the lawyer knowledgeable, clear and discussing all the options?
A good lawyer will be compassionate but they will also have the experience to tell you what you need to hear. They should be straightforward and direct, informing you of any likely obstacles and whether or not your wishes are achievable. A good lawyer won’t fill you with false hope and they will be prepared to discuss how much it is all going to cost.
Have you discussed mediation as a way forward for resolving difficulties with finances and/or children? Court should always be a last option if possible and although not essential, discussing mediation shows whether the family specialist you are consulting is serious about offering all the options.
Look for someone who adopts a non-confrontational approach to family problems. ‘Resolution’ is an association of family lawyers who are committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes and their members follow a code of practice. See here for more information: www.resolution.org.uk.
Collaborative law is another way of dealing with family disputes. You each appoint a lawyer but instead of conducting negotiations between you and your partner by letter or phone, you meet together to work things out face to face. You will have your lawyers by your sides throughout the process enabling you to receive legal advice as you go.
The aim of collaborative law is to resolve family disputes without going to court. www.lawsociety.org.uk.
If you are preparing your own case but wish to use a Direct Access Barrister to represent you at your hearings, you can look for details on the barrister’s online profiles. Are they members of relevant bodies such as Resolution, Family Law Bar Association and The Association of Lawyers for Children. http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/using-a-barrister/public-access/
You leave the very first meeting informed and confident in your choice.
Arrange an appointment to see your lawyer. A good family lawyer will usually charge a fixed fee for an initial consultation. We have prepared a list of information that you should gather in advance below and you will get much more out of your first interview if you are prepared this way. It will also give you an opportunity to decide whether you would be happy engage their services.
1. Your name, address, phone, contact details and date of birth and for your spouse;
2. The names, dates of birth of your children and details of their schools. (Include details of any children in your home who are not children from this marriage.);
3. Your marriage certificate. If this has been lost you can obtain a copy;
4. Details about any employment;
5. An estimate of the value of your property/properties and mortgages/loans secured;
6. Details of any other assets including pensions and debts;
7. Copies of any correspondence received and brief details on any other details you may think appropriate such as any special medical conditions, new relationships etc.
Provided with the above information, the lawyer should have enough experience to consider the factors that the court takes into account and to provide you with details of outcomes in similar cases and the likely outcome in your situation. An estimate of likely costs should also be provided.
The lawyer you choose should be someone that you trust and feel comfortable with. They should support your basic philosophy towards divorce, recognising the importance of your children and putting them first in the legal process. Your divorce is a highly personal and emotional process, the outcome of which can have a significant impact on your life. This is an important decision with no set guarantees, however, if you follow these steps you should find an adviser who has your best interests at heart.