No one gets married thinking they will ever have to face a divorce. It is a very challenging time in people’s lives and you may be feeling a bit lost and confused. It is crucial to put a good support team in place to help you navigate your divorce journey.
As well as the support from family and friends you will need to consider hiring some divorce professionals. One of the first members of your professional team should be your family law solicitor. However, how do you choose who to instruct? You know the divorce process can be challenging and that solicitors cost money, so you may be worried about getting it wrong. Perhaps you don’t know where to start to find the right solicitor for you and your case?
It is important for you to feel confident and comfortable with your legal representation for your divorce. It is a personal relationship and you will be working closely with someone who is going to learn a lot of personal information about your family and finances. It’s not a decision that should be rushed or taken lightly.
Here are my top tips for how to choose the best family law solicitor for you:
Make sure they are a solicitor who works exclusively in family law
It is important that you have a solicitor who is a family law specialist and practices solely in this area of law. It should mean they have plenty of experience in this area of law and are up date to with the law etc. Not having a family law specialist solicitor could be detrimental to your divorce experience and the outcome of your case. They may not be as efficient or knowledgeable in family law matters, meaning things could take longer to get done and could end up costing you more money in legal fees. The best way to investigate whether a solicitor is a family law specialist, is to look them up on the “Find a Member” page on the Resolution website –http://www.resolution.org.uk/findamember/
Get recommendations from people with experience with divorce
People who have also been through a divorce can be a very useful source for recommendations .You can ask them all about the solicitor they used, what they were like to work with and how they felt they managed their divorce case. Everyone’s experience is different, so just because your friend had a particular experience, doesn’t mean you’ll have the same but getting their thoughts can help you decide who to consider appointing and/or perhaps who to avoid. However, you shouldn’t make your decision until you done some further research. If you do not have anyone to ask speak to a divorce coach or go to the Resolution website (see below).
Make sure the solicitor is a member of Resolution
Resolution is a national organisation of family law professionals (e.g. solicitors, mediators, financial advisors, divorce coaches etc.) whose members are committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. The members follow a Code of Practice that promotes a non-confrontational approach to family problems. The members encourage solutions that consider the needs of the whole family – and in particular the best interests of children. Not having a Resolution member as your solicitor, means you have no guarantee that they will be working in the same productive, non -confrontational way in your case. The link for the website is: www.resolution.org.uk.
Don’t automatically go for someone who is local to where you live
There are many family law solicitors all over the country and you probably know of at least one, who is based in your local neighbourhood. I recommend choosing the solicitor because they “fit” with you and your divorce case, rather than they are easy to travel to. If finding the best solicitor for you means travelling 5-10miles for you to get to their offices, then that is better than simply choosing the solicitor in the local village. In practice, you will not have to meet with them very much at all during your case – perhaps only 2 or 3 times at most. After the first face to face meeting, most communication will be done on the telephone, by email and by letter. Therefore, you don’t have to worry too much if they are a little further afield, than your local neighbourhood.
Carry out further research on the solicitors you have in mind
When you have some names of solicitors, it’s important to do further research for yourself to find out more about them. I recommend looking them up on their firm website. They are likely to have a profile page, with their photo, experience and perhaps some client testimonials. It will give you more information about who they are and how the approach their cases. I would also recommend ringing 2/3 solicitors in different firms, to have a short chat with them. This will help you decide whether you think you would feel comfortable working with them and get an understanding of how their charges work. You can also arrange an initial meeting with one or more which can help further with your decision making (find out the costs for this in advance). See my blog How To Prepare For Your First Meeting With Your Solicitor for my top tips.
Please Note: You do not have to stick with the solicitor you first instruct to represent you. If you become dissatisfied with the quality of the service they are providing, you can change solicitors. I would not recommend this decision be taken lightly, to avoid any delay in the running of your case. However, if you become very unhappy, and having spoken to your solicitor about, nothing has improved you have the right to change representation. You get once chance to get your divorce settlement right for yourself. Don’t risk staying with a solicitor you don’t feel is doing their best to provide you with the best representation.
If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you will find lots more in my ebook “Tips for Coping with Divorce” which you can download here: free ebook.
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