Most people require the services of a solicitor to deal with their divorce. A solicitor can take care of the legal process for you and ensure that you are fairly represented in any negotiations regarding your divorce settlement.
Finding a Solicitor
In searching for a solicitor try the following. Check that they specialise in family law and if you are applying for legal aid that they offer legal aid support.
- The internet
- Ask friends and family for recommendations although remember that your circumstances and needs might be different to theirs
- If you have used a firm of solicitors for other services ring them and ask if they have a solicitor who specialises in family law
- Your local Citizen's Advice Bureau should be able to give advice on choosing a solicitor and have a complete listing of those in your area
- Law Society local directories, available in public libraries and court offices
- Resolution (formerly the The Solicitors Family Law Association) offer a search for solicitors in your area who are members of the SFLA
Most solicitors offer an initial free consultation. Once you have had your initial appointment costs start to add up so it is important to be as prepared as possible and take any necessary information with you. Our initial appointment checklist may help to ensure that you do not forget vital information and questions. It also contains a list of documentation that you might be required to take. Please note that is a guide and there may be additional information required for your specific set of circumstances. Download our Initial Appointment Checklist on the right.
What you should expect from your solicitor
The following is a guide only and practice may vary. However you should reasonably expect that your solicitor will:
- Give you good legal advice and representation
- Give an estimation of legal costs from the outset, although this will vary according to your individual case and may change considerably should complications arise
- Give you a copy of the Solicitor's Code of Practice and information about the firm they work for including contractual obligations and cost
- Encourage you to resolve any differences with your spouse amicably and avoid aggressive court action
- Continue to represent you if you are in the process of mediation and be available for consultation during and after an agreement has been reached
- Advise you with the welfare of your children in mind. If you are likely to do anything that they feel would be detrimental to the welfare of your children your solicitor should advise you to reconsider your actions
- Keep you informed of any developments in your case. Most solicitors have hundreds of cases and yours will not necessarily be the priority until it is due to come to court so it is advisable to maintain regular contact yourself.
Be aware that your solicitor will not -
- Deal with emotional needs. Your solicitor may be sympathetic but many people going through a divorce need the added help of a counsellor to help them through the divorce on a personal and emotional level
- Have both sides of the story. Your solicitor only knows what you tell them about your spouse so be honest with them. They will not be able to represent you properly if you make false allegations and the truth comes out later in court
- Look into your background in any detail. Solicitors deal with the information they are given so if you are facing false allegations or have problems seeing your children collect your own evidence confirming your good character
- Always be on hand to answer your immediate queries. Solicitors have a huge caseload and will prioritise what is coming up in court. Don't harass your solicitor unnecessarily but do make a telephone appointment with their secretary if something is urgent or you have heard nothing about your case for several weeks and have concerns that deadlines are not being met
If you are not satisfied with the advice that you receive from your solicitor you can seek a second opinion, either from within the firm or another solicitor. However, be realistic. If it is simply that your solicitor is telling you something that you are finding hard to accept or do not want to hear you are likely to be given the same advice by any good solicitor acting for you particularly if it regards the welfare of your children.
If your divorce or arrangements for the children end up in court your solicitor will appoint a barrister to represent you. Try and arrange to meet them before the court date as it is important that you ensure they are familiar with your case and have read all of the necessary paperwork. They will speak for you in court and you must be happy with them representing you so don't let your solicitor suggest that you leave meeting them until the day of your case.