Now’s the time to find a family solicitor because if your relationship has broken down the decisions you make could affect you for the rest of your life. Don’t leave anything to chance – family law is complicated and is always changing.
You may be feeling overwhelmed by all the issues you are facing, their complexity and how they are affecting your life. Your solicitor will help you understand which issues should be dealt with as a priority and, using their experience, guide you through the best process for you to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.
And no, it’s not a good idea to share just one solicitor, whatever your partner says. Imagine you’re playing Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final. You wouldn’t expect Ivan Lendl to be your coach as well as Andy’s would you? You’d want your own coach.
Would you mend your own washing machine? I’d say that doing your own divorce and mending your own washing machine are equally as risky – unless of course you’re a fully qualified family solicitor with a side line in mending washing machines (in which case I may have a job for you!). DIY divorce and DIY washing machine repairs – both equally fraught with danger and definitely best left to the experts.
Go to your friends for emotional support – that’s vital. But there will always be those who have their own take on what you should be doing, probably guided by their own experience. But no two divorces are they same. If you broke a bone you wouldn’t ask your friend what her x-ray showed, or your cousin how her cast was set, would you? You’d go to the hospital yourself.
Have you already reached an agreement between you? I’ve heard this many, many times, and it can be a good starting point. But sadly there are many reasons why it rarely works out. It may be unfair on you. It may be impractical or impossible to put into effect. It may not include all the assets of the marriage. An apparently valuable asset may turn out to be burdened with a huge mortgage. A pension may turn out to be surprisingly valuable and impossible to ignore.
It’s important to get the right family solicitor either through personal recommendation or the Resolution website. Don’t be afraid to ask a solicitor questions. Does she specialise in family law? What is her experience? You need someone who not only specialises in family law, but has done so for a considerable period of time.
Ask her how she can help you. She should tell you she will advise you of your options and how much they’re likely to cost. Ask her what the likely outcome will be. She won’t be able to go into any detail at this early stage, but she’ll be able to give you a rough idea.
A good family lawyer will have been through this dozens and dozens of times, and will be able to advise you and protect you and get the best settlement for you and your family. In the long run a good family solicitor will help you save time and money, and she will obtain a better settlement for you than you could get on your own.
Is your relationship in the ambulance waiting to go into A&E? If there are still sparks of life a good family solicitor will recommend couple counselling. A conversation with a properly qualified counsellor might help your partner see things from your point of view.
A good family solicitor will say, How about mediation? Or she might suggest collaborative law. Both are proven methods of saving time and money and keeping things amicable. You will avoid a lengthy dispute, or, worst case scenario, court proceedings. And remember, the amicable approach is usually the best especially where there are children involved.
So make sure you’ve got the right person in your corner: a family solicitor. And next time, maybe talk to a family solicitor about a prenuptial agreement before the wedding.
Did any of the experiences I mention in this article ring a bell with you? If you have an opinion, please leave a comment below. We would be interested to read it. And please sign up for our next blog by clicking “Notify Me of New Posts by Email”.
JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions.
Visit our website just-family-law.com
The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog might have application to you, you should seek expert legal advice.
photo of Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl by Kate on Flickr (photograph resized and brightened)