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Divorce & Family Law Help
Factors in Choosing a Solicitor for Your Divorce
Sadly, although you and your partner have both given it your best, it appears that your fairy tale wedding won’t have a happily-ever-after ending after all. After evaluating all possible courses of action, you’ve come to the painful conclusion that it is best to divorce.
The word “divorce” conjures horrible images of long courtroom battles and many legal disputes. Any one would shirk at the thought of having a divorce, but there is actually a way to prevent all the pre-conceived courtroom drama from ever happening. Yes, it does require work and effort, but it is attainable.
Your divorce proceedings need not be the nightmare often depicted on television. With proper guidance, you and your partner should be able to part ways amicably and both of you will still be able to retain each other’s self-respect and dignity. The key to a successful divorce (if ever there was such a word) lies in finding the right divorce solicitor.
Choosing the right solicitor can be a very difficult task considering that there are several legal offices offering various services. To find a suitable solicitor, you may begin by asking friends or relatives for recommendations. Another option would be for you to get in touch with professional associations, such as the Resolution (formerly Solicitor’s Family Law Association) and, The Children Panel (if you have children) and ask for a list of their members.
You may also visit the Community Legal Service of the Citizens Advice Bureau and browse through the list of solicitors they have on their database. As a last resort, you may also check the Yellow Pages. You may employ any method you’re comfortable with as long as you remember that you need a solicitor whose specialty is divorce and family law.
The next step would be for you to narrow down your choices until you find a solicitor that you feel comfortable working with. This is usually done by visiting or calling the solicitors on your short list. Schedule a meeting with the solicitors of your choice and briefly discuss with them the situation you are in. Feel free to ask questions, especially about his experience in divorce settlements. From his answers, you’ should be able to glean on the extent of knowledge the solicitor has on the subject. Incidentally, preliminary consultations (as long as it’s not too in depth) are usually free of charge.
Take this opportunity to know more about the solicitor and/or the company, which he represents. Find out of the solicitor is a member of the SLFA Specialist Accreditation Scheme, or of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel, an organization where members are supposed to have a deep knowledge of family law. Try to find out if the solicitor can also act as a mediator and, if he is part of a firm, what other forms of service they provide. This factor is important if other aspects such as businesses or trusts will be affected in the divorce proceedings.
While at the interview, do not be embarrassed to ask about their legal fees and the other costs your case will entail. Large firms usually have a prepared brochure wherein their services; payment terms and appropriate charges are listed. Read this thoroughly and if there are items that you do not understand, ask that these be explained further. Be open about your budget and your requirements. If you do not feel comfortable discussing your financial status with the solicitor you’re meeting with, chances are you won’t feel confident discussing other parts of your life (related to the case) with him as well.
Normally, you can already determine which solicitor would be best for you after your meeting. There really are no hard and fast rules in determining who can best represent you. It’s normally based on your gut feelings. If you feel that you can trust the solicitor and are confident that he can do a good job for you then by all means, hire him. But if you have a nagging doubt about his capabilities or feel uncomfortable with him, then it’s best to consider other solicitors.
There are other factors, which may help you choose which solicitor to take. Distance of the solicitor’s office, for example, may be a determining factor. However, due to advancements in modern telecommunication and transportation, proximity hardly ever matters.
Hopefully, if you get a good solicitor (and your partner gets a good one too), your divorce should not be too traumatic. After the dust has settled, it would be nice if you and your partner got out of the relationship unscathed and still friends.