Enter email to subscribe to Free Divorce Mini-Course
Divorce & Family Law Help
How to Communicate with Your Divorce Solicitor?
Before taking that petition form in your hand to the nearest divorce county court or to the Principal Registry in London, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you know that you cannot start a petition for divorce unless you have been married for more than one (1) year?
- Do you know that you or your spouse must have your permanent home in England or Wales when you start the petition or have lived in England or Wales for at least a year on the day the petition starts?
- Are you aware of the grounds used by the courts to declare your marriage as having irretrievably broken down and thus allow divorce?
With these questions settled, what is your next move?
The Need for a Solicitor
The hiring of a solicitor is not applicable in all cases. However, a sound legal advice may be very useful before starting a petition if:
- it is unclear to you whether you have grounds for divorce
- your spouse is most likely to fight the divorce proceedings
- there is no clear agreement as to where your children should live and with whom
- there is no agreement regarding any financial support for you and the children nor any agreement about property
Although there is no one who can force you to do so, a consultation with a solicitor, at the very least is a highly recommended course of action to take. This is to minimise complications and assure fairness. A mediator is an option but consultation with a solicitor would be done just the same to make sure that agreements done are legally binding unless you happen to take the services of a solicitor mediator.
Finding a Solicitor
The choice of a solicitor is in itself a discouraging task with the wide choice of firms and the services they offer. You should find a solicitor who is qualified in the area of family or matrimonial law. The legal problems of this area is so complex that a solicitor can only be of help if he himself fully understands the implications and consequences of decisions that has to be done by people going through a divorce.
It would be good if your solicitor is a member of the Resolution, a body of solicitors operating within a strict code of practice. Referrals to the Law Society of England and Wales are also possible through this membership. Knowing that your solicitor is backed up by a reliable team can do much to strengthen your relationship with your chosen solicitor. Since hiring a solicitor is quite expensive, you can also try and find out if you are eligible for legal aid. It is also possible to use the free helpline run by volunteers to sort of run through your problem first and afterwards be able to hear from a solicitor what he thinks about your specific case.
Facing your Solicitor
If you have made contact with a solicitor either through recommendations of friends or through the help of government agencies and citizen advice bureaus, you should be fully aware of what this contact translates to cost. Some solicitors are willing to give the first interview free of charge, while others are not. Communication with your solicitor should be clear and direct from the very first consultation.
Prepare yourself with information and documentation that is relevant to the case. If your solicitor fails to inform you of these requirements, have the initiative to ask so your first meeting will be productive. Your family solicitor is the person most qualified to assess your legal situation to better protect your finances and your children's interest. Focus on his advice and instruct your solicitor accordingly. Do not forget that you are in control, not him.
Your solicitor sometimes has to give you advice that may not appeal to you. Bear in mind that it is their duty to move within the structure of the law and will not advice you to do anything illegal. Once a fact is made known to your solicitor, he has to use it even to the extent of using it as evidence. Ask your solicitor to explain reasons for advice you do not like and ask for possible choices and options. You should not allow at any time a situation where you find yourself unable to understand exactly what is going on.
Give your solicitor a working figure so you will be aware at once if your expected cost is being exceeded.
Relationship with your Solicitor
Try to establish a relationship based on trust and respect with him guiding you in all legal aspects of the case and with you having the final say on what to do after careful consideration of his advice. In as much as he may understand your situation, do not depend on him for emotional support and take too much of his time on unnecessary phone calls and meetings. Think of that cost adding up.
Be straightforward in your dealings with your solicitor. If you feel that he does not suit you, you have every right to look for another.