If you’re getting divorced, you’ll need the right family law practice to give you the correct legal counsel and to assist you through the process in every way.
But how do you find the best divorce lawyer for your specific circumstances? We’ve put together a guide to help you choose.
Why Do You Need a Divorce Solicitor?
In the vast majority of cases, it makes sense to work with a divorce lawyer. They’ll try to make sure that you receive a fair financial deal and will also help with key issues such as access to children, child maintenance and more.
It’s particularly wise to hire a divorce lawyer if:
- You’re financially dependent on your spouse (for example, if you left work to care for your children).
- You have joint debts.
- You believe your spouse is concealing information about their financial situation.
- Your spouse owns the house you live in.
- You and your spouse have complex financial assets; for example, trusts or overseas funds.
- You’re in a situation where you can’t agree on where your children should live.
- You’re thinking of taking your children to live abroad (or your spouse is).
- You suspect your spouse will make things difficult throughout the process.
- You’re concerned your children are at risk by being exposed to your spouse (for example, if you suspect that your spouse is abusive).
- You’re finding the process overwhelming and want someone to support you.
The best divorce lawyers will:
- Check over details to ensure you’re acting within the law.
- Address any issues that you’re finding problematic or confusing (for example, deciphering complex legal documents).
- Explain the process and your options to you at every stage.
- Speak on your behalf during court proceedings.
How to Find the Best Divorce Lawyer
It’s recommended that you work with a divorce solicitor in your area, as it’s likely that you’ll need to meet with them in their offices on a regular basis. Look for the following:
- A specialist in the field. You should work with a solicitor who has extensive experience in the field of family law (and divorce proceedings in particular).
- If they’re part of an accreditation scheme, this is a good sign (in family law, family law advanced, or children law). Alternatively, check that they’ve been regulated by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority.
- Established reputation. It’s wise to do some research before getting in contact. Search for online reviews or ask divorced friends for recommendations.
A good place to start looking for a divorce lawyer is online. There are many directories listing law firms in your area and visit their sites.
Before You Get in Touch
Before you contact any divorce solicitors, it’s important to do the following:
- Manage your expectations. Work out what you want to achieve with your solicitor, and what your priorities are. For example, it may be that your priority is to gain full custody of your children or to get a fair financial settlement. Identifying your goals will ensure that you’re asking the right questions during your initial conversation.
- Understand the solicitor’s role. The best divorce lawyers will work hard to get the best possible divorce settlement for you. They’ll listen to your requirements and act accordingly, but it’s important to note that they’re not trained therapists. While they may have sympathy for your situation, their focus will be on the legalities, not the emotional impact.
- Identify a budget. Solicitor’s fees vary considerably, based on their location, experience and level of expertise.
Meet with Them in Person
Once you have identified a suitable lawyer in your area, it is advisable to arrange an initial consultation and keep the following check-list in mind:
- Do you feel comfortable talking to them? You will be working alongside the divorce lawyer for an extended period (usually months). As such, it’s vital that you feel comfortable and confident when talking to them.
- Do they ask the right questions? The best lawyers will not only tell you about themselves and what they can offer; they’ll also focus on finding out about your individual situation. This is to make sure that they’re well positioned to offer you the help and support you need.
- Do they seem experienced? You can generally tell when a solicitor is experienced in his or her field. They will talk confidently about the topic and won’t hesitate to answer your questions.
- Are they happy to talk money? Ultimately, you’ll need to know how much your solicitor will be charging you and what do they estimate your fees will be.
Before making the final decision, you should arrange a time to meet with the divorce solicitor face-to-face. There are many factors to weigh up, and compatibility is one of them – you will need to be able to get along if you are going to work together.
Managing the Finances
Some people are concerned about solicitor’s fees. However, it’s important to bear in mind the following:
- A specialist divorce solicitor is likely to get you a much better financial settlement, which will probably cancel out their fees in the long run.
- Solicitors usually charge an hourly rate. If you are organised and well-prepared for every meeting (whether on the phone or in person), this will reduce the amount of time needed, which in turn, will cut costs.
- Tempting though it is to ‘offload’ about your spouse (particularly if the divorce is not running as smoothly as hoped), this will make your solicitor meetings take longer. If you are struggling with the mental impact of getting a divorce, therapy or counselling is the recommended path, as these trained professionals are far better positioned to support you emotionally.
Take Time to Make Your Decision
Hiring the right solicitor is one of the most important decisions you will make during the divorce proceedings. A good lawyer offers enormous benefit throughout the process; from helping you to understand potentially confusing documents to providing representation in court. They are there to answer your questions, explain what is happening at every stage, and get the best result possible for you and your children (if you have them).
As a result, it is imperative to take your time with making the final decision. Jot down the facts about the solicitor in question but remember to listen to your gut response too. If you felt that you gelled well with them and that they understood your unique situation, chances are that they’re the right solicitor for you.