Choosing A Divorce Lawyer

Choosing A Divorce Lawyer

When you find yourself in a situation which requires legal advice, it can be difficult to know where to turn for the best advice for choosing a divorce lawyer.

As a first step, choosing a lawyer who specialises in the area in which you need help. There are accreditation schemes for the different areas of law, from personal injury, medical negligence, wills and probate, conveyancing, family law and employment. At Roper James we have experienced specialist lawyers able to help with each of these areas.

The best way to find a lawyer is through recommendation from friends or family. If you do search on the internet for family issues, look for a lawyer who is a member of Resolution first for family law. This is an organisation for family law professionals who commit to resolve issues in a constructive way.

How people look for legal advice has changed enormously over the last 10 years, with so much now available online from a range of providers. Whilst these can look tempting, some charge for forms which you could download yourself or deliver a “one size fits all” package. The divorce application is a technical form which needs to be completed correctly especially if there are financial matters to be dealt with or you have formed a new relationship. It can also be hard to tell online, whether anyone checking it has any experience or expertise.

It’s important to be clear about the costs from the outset.  Some firms offer a fixed fee, but this is likely to cover a specific limited amount of work and may not include court fees (£550 for a divorce application) or any additional costs such as expert’s or barrister’s fees.

Most solicitors offer different levels of service to suit your needs, from providing you with general advice; checking documents or drafting them for you; or dealing with all the steps on your behalf.  They will provide a clear estimate of the costs involved for the work you have asked them to do and keep that under review in case more work is needed than originally thought. If you are shopping around, make sure that you are comparing like with like and that VAT, court fees and any disbursements ( sums paid out on your behalf) are included.

Relationship breakdown is very stressful.  It’s normal to go through a whole range of emotions from denial, anger, feeling revengeful and despair. Although it’s important to allow yourself these feelings, it’s vital that you don’t allow your emotions to control your decision making. In most cases, the divorce procedure does not take who did what into account and any financial settlement will be based on what is a fair division of the assets of the marriage. Contrary to popular belief, a lawyer’s role is to help you reach the best settlement for you and not to score points over your ex. To do that they need to be a good listener to help identify what is important to you long term.

It is important to be realistic about the future. It should be obvious, but you can only share what you have with your ex.  The aim is to achieve a settlement which is fair to both parties recognising their respective needs. The sooner that settlement is reached the sooner stress is reduced.

Your lawyer will be able to set out the options available to you and support you in making the right decision. The cost of legal advice can appear to be expensive but in a difficult situation it is important to have clear expert advice to help you make some of the biggest decisions of your life. Remember that they will be acting in your best interests. It is your decision how to settle your divorce, but if your lawyer strongly advises you against taking a particular approach or suggests that you are being unrealistic, then it’s probably best to take that on board.

At Roper James we offer an initial free consultation (up to 30 minutes) to discuss how we can help.  Contact Teresa Cussen on 01752 546448 or teresacussen@roperjames.co.uk to arrange an appointment.

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