Divorce & Separation – How to Use a Divorce Lawyer
When You Start
Consider what you want to get from the settlement. Your life will be very different once the process is completed and you need to decide upon your objectives. These should be reasonable as the court has to be fair to both parties. Your objectives also need to be realistic – you will be expected even within a Court process to try and reach agreement with your partner (particularly if children are involved). You need to make sure that your divorce lawyer knows these objectives.
If possible, discuss and agree with your former partner how you will handle the process. If the divorce process becomes a prolonged and bitter battle then you will both lose out because of high legal costs.
You should consider mediation or collaborative law as options before you instruct a solicitor. Both these approaches are faster, cheaper and less stressful than reaching a settlement through the court. Many solicitors are trained as mediators and/or collaborative lawyers.
Get a clear estimate and ensure that it covers disbursements (costs that solicitors have to pay to third parties), court fees and VAT. Also make sure that your lawyer will keep you up to date with spending as the divorce progresses. You should also agree how the divorce costs will be funded.
During The Process
Make sure that your lawyer keeps you fully informed as the divorce process progresses. Your lawyer also needs to discuss and agree with you each decision in the process.
Stay calm throughout the process. Divorce is very stressful and the emotions involved can lead to poor decisions and misunderstandings. If you get stressed you will not be thinking and using the logical parts of your brain, you will be using the emotional central part of your brain.
Do not be afraid to ask your divorce lawyer any questions you may have during the process. It is important that you understand the process along with the decisions required and their implications.
Do not be afraid to challenge or complain to your divorce lawyer if you think there is a problem. Issues that cannot be resolved between you and your lawyer can be referred to the Legal Ombudsman.
Do not expect your divorce lawyer to act as a Counsellor and/or Therapist.
It helps if you give your divorce lawyer promptly all relevant papers (in chronological order) along with all relevant information and facts.
Legal Aid for Mediation
From 3rd November 2014 legal aid is available to fund both the MIAM and the first session of mediation where one of the people involved qualifies for legal aid.