A good solicitor can be a lifeline during divorce and separation, especially if communication and negotiation with your ex proves difficult. Your solicitor should provide you with an objective view on your situation and help you make the right decisions based on your circumstances. However, your solicitor is not there to act as a personal therapist or couples counsellor; nor can they bend the law to get you what you want!
When entering into a professional contract with your solicitor, it’s important to know what they can and can’t do for you during divorce – here are some of the most commonly asked questions we’ve received when taking on new divorce clients:
Can I get a quickie divorce like so-and-so celebrity did?
Yes and no. A ‘quick’ divorce takes around 4-6 months depending on the court office and how quickly each party deals with paperwork. Disputing children’s issues and financial settlements can increase this timeframe significantly, so it all depends on how well you are able to negotiate with each other. But no matter how hard you try (or what you may have seen in celebrity news), it’s not possible to get divorce in a matter of weeks.
Can I get a fixed price for my divorce?
Yes! Or, at least, a fixed price for each stage of the process. Divorce is always an unknown quantity since you have no control over how complicated your ex may make your case, but it is possible to fix fees for the various steps of separation, giving you a much better idea of how you need to budget.
Can you be my mediator and my solicitor?
No – a mediator must be neutral to both parties and cannot give you individual legal advice. While it’s not essential to have a solicitor in addition to a mediator, you may find it useful to get secondary advice and guidance throughout the process. And if you want your mediated agreement to be binding you will need a solicitor to draft an order for you.
Can you guarantee that I will get to keep my house?
Unfortunately there are no guarantees in divorce, and your likelihood of being awarded the family home depends on your personal and financial circumstances, for example: whether you have children and whether you’re the primary caregiver, and how much money is available between you and your ex. What your solicitor can do is give you tailored advice on how to approach your separation so that you come out with the best possible outcome.
Can you talk privately to my ex’s solicitor and convince them to agree with my wishes?
While negotiation is at the core of any divorce, it’s ultimately up to the separating couple to either come to a mutually beneficial agreement, or state their individual cases to persuade the courts to decide in their favour. The best way to simplify your divorce is to communicate and compromise with your ex, and be open and honest with your solicitor so that they are able to represent you to the best of their abilities. By choosing out-of-court methods of dispute resolution like mediation or collaborative family law, you will have more control over the outcome and decisions made.
Can you stop my ex from badmouthing me to friends and family?
Unless your ex is making threats and you are worried about your safety, unfortunately not. If you are ever afraid of your ex’s intentions, you can (and should) seek the assistance of the police. If they are blaming you for the break up and making up stories about you, you may be able to seek a civil injunction to prevent them from doing this, but it will be difficult to enforce and will only add to your expenses. While it’s horrible to endure listening to your ex saying nasty things about you, or trying to turn loved ones against you, the best thing to do is ignore them and focus on the practical process of separation. This kind of behaviour is usually an attempt at intimidation, or a knee-jerk reaction to the anger and grief of breaking up. Those who know and care about you shouldn’t believe the lies, and anyone who does shouldn’t matter.
At Frances Lindsay & Co we offer ‘a different kind of family law’, with family-centred fixed-fee services available across Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. Let us take the weight off your shoulders and provide you with a tailored approach to divorce and separation. Visit www.franceslindsay.co.uk for more information.
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