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What to know before you visit your divorce solicitor.

October 5, 2022
Family Law

Thinking about seeing a solicitor following the breakdown of your marriage or civil partnership? Here
are our top tips and points to consider in advance:

  1. Be prepared
  • Make a list of key dates including the date of your marriage (and when you started to cohabit, if this is different from the date of your marriage) and the date on which you separated.
  • Make a list of all assets which you have an interest in as well as any liabilities you may have.
  • If you have one or more pensions, it is helpful to complete and send off a Pension Inquiry Form (see here) to each pension administrator as early as possible to request up to date cash equivalent valuations as these can sometimes take a while to obtain, depending on the type of pension scheme.
  • If property is involved, try and find out the current value(s) of each property and if there is a mortgage, what the current redemption figure is. 
  • Make sure you have a clear idea of your current income. 
  • If you have information pertaining to your former spouse/civil partner’s financial circumstances, make a note of what you can recall but do not under any circumstances actively hunt around for information or documentation belonging to them, nor should you provide us with any documents belonging to them which you may have located. 
  • Let us know if there are any issues which we may need to be aware of, which could impact on any advice we provide, such as any health issues which affect you or your spouse/civil partner, or any children of the family, if applicable.
  • Finally, keep us updated if there are any changes in your financial circumstances after the first meeting and always discuss any important financial decisions you may be considering after separation such as an expensive purchase or borrowing a large sum. 

  1. Ask questions
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions, even if you feel that they may be irrelevant. It is better to address any concerns you have early on in the process, rather than fret about them later on.

  1. What would you like as an outcome?
  • Where possible, come to your first meeting armed with an understanding of what you are hoping to come out of this process with and where you would like to see yourself at the end of your divorce/dissolution of your civil partnership. 
  • It can be helpful for us to know what you would like as an ideal outcome so that we can consider with you whether this can be achieved and in some cases, present you with other options which you may not have considered which could be more beneficial to you.

  1. Going to Court is very much a last resort
  • Contrary to popular belief, very few cases actually need to be determined by the Court and where appropriate, we will always seek to encourage some other form of alternative dispute resolution. Contested Court proceedings are expensive, time consuming (in some cases taking up to 2 years to obtain a Final Order) and place the decision making process in the hands of a Judge who will be exercising their discretionary powers. 
  • There are an array of amicable, cost effective options which we can consider with you in the first instance to help you reach a settlement without the need to issue formal contested Court proceedings. These include, but are not limited to, mediation, solicitor led negotiations (usually preceded by the exchange of financial disclosure), arbitration and/or a private FDR where the parties can privately pay an experienced lawyer to determine the outcome in the absence of earlier agreement in a fraction of the time it would take for a Court to do so. 
  • We will discuss each of these options with you at an early stage and consider which (if any) are appropriate for your particular case.
  • That said, if Court proceedings are unavoidable, we will give you clear information relating to estimated costs and guide you through each stage of the process.

  1. Fairness
  • The objective is always to achieve an outcome which is fair to both parties, having regard to the particular circumstances of your case, although we understand that quite often, there may be a disagreement as to what amounts to a fair outcome. To that end, we will always seek to provide you with realistic and commercial advice from the outset, drawing on our many years of experience.
  • Where children of the family are involved, they will always be the Court’s first consideration. If you are not in agreement as to the living arrangements for any children of the family, please let us know as we may need to advise you in respect of this before we can provide bespoke advice on an appropriate financial settlement.
  • It is often very easy to incur significant costs when seeking to resolve financial matters on divorce/the breakdown of a civil partnership and it is therefore important to come to the table ready to compromise and take emotion out of the equation. 
  • Remember, there are no winners and losers.

  1. Funding
  • Whilst most parties fund their own legal fees, there are potential options which may be available to you in circumstances where this is not possible. 
  • These include litigation loans and in certain circumstances, considering whether it is possible for the other party to contribute towards your legal fees. We will discuss these with you during your meeting and advise on whether we feel they may be an appropriate consideration.
  • If you are considering borrowing money from a family member or friend to assist you with your legal fees and you are realistically expecting to repay these sums and have the Court take them into account as a relevant consideration in your case, please let us know before you do so that we can advise on what steps to take to stand the best chance of having the Court deem these as hard loans, rather than soft loans.

At stevensdrake, we offer all new clients a one off fixed fee consultation for up to 1 hour for £100 plus VAT (£120 in total). Please do not hesitate to contact us on 01293596900 or email our paralegal, Alison Cole (Alison.cole@stevensdrake.com) who will be happy to discuss matters with you further. 

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