Using a solicitor

Why do I need a solicitor?
If you are thinking about separating or divorce, you will most probably need a solicitor, especially when having to settle property and financial matters. Even if you are tempted to try a DIY divorce or come to an informal separation agreement between yourselves, each of you will still need a solicitor to check over the details to make so that you are each protected in the future and that the agreement is legally sound. Even the most informed person could make a serious error when settling finances and this could have a serious and detrimental impact on you for many years to come.

Is your case totally straightforward?
Unless you are very organised and your case is very straightforward, you will need at least a preliminary meeting with a family law solicitor. This should be considered as an investment and a way to avoid problems in the future. Even if things seem quite amicable now, it is still a good time to touch base with a solicitor.

Can't someone else advise me?
Your family law solicitor is the only professional person who is qualified to advise you about your legal situation together with advice about your finances and children. Your situation will be unique although there are many issues which may be common to other situations. One thing is for sure, many people may offer you advice whether based on personal experience or that of friends, but the only advice you should really focus on is that of your own solicitor who knows the facts of your individual case. You should not rely on your spouse's advice during divorce and separation without your own independent legal advice. You can therefore safely decide whether you want to instruct the solicitor to act on your behalf. Your solicitor will advise you and it is then up to you to consider this advice and then act accordingly. You do the instructing. You are in control.

'He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.'
Proverbs 13-12

Is there such a thing as a perfect divorce settlement?
It is rare for both spouses to leave the negotiation table with a perfect settlement. Compromise is the key word.

What about so called 'internet divorces'?
There isn't really such a thing as an internet divorce - you may be charged by a company for filling in your forms online but these documentsstill have to be viewed by the courts.
The wording and timing of court documents can be crucial. Court orders for lump sums or transfer of property cannot normally be altered once they are made. This applies to orders made by agreement as well as those decided by the court. So it is very important to consider your future needs and seek professional advice before you commit yourself to any agreement or indeed, any application.

Are there any free divorce documents?
Yes, You should be aware that all divorce documents are available FREE of charge from your local court or can be downloaded from the Court Service website via Divorce Aid/Courts. Again this is a totally free service. The documents come with clear and precise instructions about filling them in and if you do need some assistance, the clerks at court may be very helpful but are not able to give legal advice.

Are these forms complicated?
You may find that these may be more complicated than anticipated and you may need a solicitor to guide you. All divorce papers have to be presented to the courts and fees are charged. There are however certain exemptions which your solicitor can advise or contact your local court by phone or in person.

How can I keep costs down?
Accessing good information can only reduce legal costs but we do stress that you should at least touch base with a family law solicitor of your own. Having a face to face meeting and looking over the relevant documents can only prepare you well. Armed with this knowledge and details about your own personal circumstances, you can use your solicitor just as a consultant for your divorce if it is a very straightforward one.

But my divorce is amicable; why use a solicitor?
Having established a relationship with your solicitor, it can be quite comforting to know that you can call on him or his team should the need arise. The divorce process can start off as quite amicable and simple but often disputes arise especially concerning finances and children.

Where can I find more information?
Please refer back to our articles

Choosing a solicitor


Find a solicitor/Divorce Aid

in our Legal Section for further information and a personal
hands-on referral service.

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