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Divorce & Family Law Help
What's the Role of a Solicitor in Divorce Mediation?
Ever wonder why you must hire a solicitor in order to divorce your spouse? You didnít need a solicitor to get married, and perhaps your separation is amicable, but still, you must have a solicitor to file the papers for you and make sure the division of assets is legal and in the best interest of the clients. Indeed, if there are children involved, you must have a legally binding custody agreement, filed in court, otherwise it is not binding.
Whatever else it may be, a marriage is a contract. Under this contract, each spouse agrees to certain things. In the vows, one agrees to love and honor, but on paper they are agreeing to a lot more. For example, when two people get married, most of their finances merge. What is his becomes hers and what is hers becomes his. As another example, if there are children involved, both parents are not just morally responsible for the well-being of the children, they are both legally responsible as well. So you see, when you get a divorce, it is not just like breaking up, you are trying to get out of a contract, and property as well as legal responsibility for any debts or children needs to be resolved. That is why you need a solicitor.
The first thing a solicitor does is counsel his or her client. The solicitor lets you know what to expect and goes over with you exactly what the issues are. Is there a lot of debt? A jointly owned business? Children? Is the house paid for or not? The same solicitor cannot represent both people in the divorce; each party must have his or her own solicitor that will be looking out solely for his or clientís best interest. Having a solicitor represent both parties goes against the entire point of having a solicitor, which is to have someone working in the best interest of each party independently. The solicitor can make sure all the legal aspects of the divorce are being addressed and that the other party isnít trying to hide anything.
Depending on whether the divorce is amicable or if it is contentious, mediation or arbitration is the next step in settling a divorce. In either case, your solicitor will represent you and speak (most of the time) for you during the proceedings. He or she will be an intermediary. You and your former spouse will each negotiate through your solicitor at the mediation. This is actually a very good thing because emotions often run high at mediation and arbitration and one of the skills of a solicitor is that he or she can remain calm and levelheaded even during a heated exchange. Also, because it is a formal legal procedure, much of the information that is revealed during this process is secret or ďprivilegedĒ. Basically, this means that the information cannot be used in any other context during the divorce proceedings.
Once both parties have come to an agreement about how assets should be divided and whom the kids will live with, the solicitorís final job is to create a Deed of Separation. This is the document that officially voids your marriage contract and makes legally binding the agreements and arrangements that were made in mediation and/or arbitration. For example, if it was agreed that one spouse would keep the family home, this document makes that transaction legally binding.
A solicitorís role in mediation is very important. Solicitors act on behalf of their clients for the best outcome possible, they make sure all the details of the separation have been decided upon, and they write up and file all the documents necessary to make a divorce final and legal.