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Instructing a solicitor

Posted by Hedghog 
Instructing a solicitor
August 22, 2022 12:29PM
Hi All

This might be a very basic question...

I've been recommended a specialist family law solicitor by a friend and plan to speak to/meet her for an initial consultation. If that goes well, then I plan to instruct them so that I can start the process of applying for divorce.

I want to make sure I make most efficient use of time with a solicitor. Can I get some guidance as to what information I should prepare for an initial meeting/instructing the solicitor please?

What details would be useful?

Re: Instructing a solicitor
August 22, 2022 02:38PM
For the divorce itself the solicitor will need basic information such as the marriage certificate postal and email addresses.

To give basic information about the financial issues arising from the marriage a solicitor will need to know the basic financial circumstances of you and your wife in terms of income, assets, pensions and liabilities as well as other information which you think may be relevant such as any illness or disability.

On the children (about which most people are concerned) you should understand that the courts do not routinely involved in any issue to do with children and you should only involve the courts as a matter of absolute last resort. Typically courts leave parents to sort out issues of contact and residence between themselves and and almost all parents do. It is fair to say that when a marriage breaks down the relationship is initially fraught and there may well be problems about contact/residence of children. But, and this is a very important but, in almost all cases the parents come to workable arrangements in the months following divorce. That is the solution may not always be immediate but for the vast majority of people they resolve themselves over time. Therefore you should not expect the courts to get involved in a dispute about children and it is best avoided. Generally only really serious and intractable problems would justify taking an issue to do with children to a court.
Re: Instructing a solicitor
August 22, 2022 04:07PM
Thanks David

That's great information. I'll start to make a list of the basic information and also the financials. For my wife's numbers I'll make a best guess.

On the children arrangements, there have been lots of threats from her about taking them away, allowing me to see them 'now and again' etc. Whilst these threats obviously push my buttons, I'm trying to remain calm about them as a) hopefully once she calms a little, she will understand that the kids want to see daddy as much as possible as I have a very close relationship with them and b) she will probably want a break from the childcare!

I guess the key for me is not to get too excited that the final arrangements for the kids are not in place straight away, but I will work towards that.

thanks a lot!
Re: Instructing a solicitor
August 22, 2022 07:02PM
>>I guess the key for me is not to get too excited that the final arrangements for the kids are not in place straight away

Correct. Issues to do with children are often in the forefront of people's mind as problems but (a) they do tend to resolve themselves over time once the divorce and financial issues have been settled and (b) courts recognise this and so do not generally get involved in children's issues in most divorces.
Re: Instructing a solicitor
September 30, 2022 03:20AM
I have spent £4000 on divorce solicitors so far. My issue is that solicitors have no personal feeling of responsibility. It i just another case. The law is very subjective, and very sexist. (sorry...tangent)

My point is that I do most of the communication with my wife's solicitor directly. I respond to letters myself. If I need advice I will call the solicitor, but i will deal with letters and court appearances myself. Just make sure you have documentation, and take notes when the other side speaks so you can respond calmly and astutely.
Re: Instructing a solicitor
September 30, 2022 09:55AM
>>I do most of the communication with my wife's solicitor directly.

Then on your own head be it. I once acted for a client who did that (unknown to me). When we attended the FDR we put forward a perfectly reasonable proposal only to be confronted with a sheaf of letters which the client had written and which completely undermined the position put forward on his behalf. Unless you know what you are doing (and a person with no professional legal qualification is at huge risk corresponding with someone who is and who represents the opponent) then you are running a big risk in doing this.
Re: Instructing a solicitor
September 30, 2022 02:15PM
Agreed. But if one is reasonably astute, you should know when to keep your big fat mouth shut.

I am not saying that (me personally) am dong this completely alone. I am turning to my solicitor for advice, but i simply cant pay £5,000 for a barrister for a few hours. So, I get my facts, get my questioned answered, stick to the facts, go slow, and if i don't know something tell them i will get back to them.

It is doable...with a hybrid approach.
Re: Instructing a solicitor
September 30, 2022 03:17PM
If you say so. Nothing obliges anyone to instruct a solicitor. A person can represent themselves in the Supreme Court if they want. That does not get around the fact that (a) it is difficult and (b) full of pitfalls. And a hybrid approach can all too easily end up with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. That is not to say that a person cannot keep costs down by taking advice as and when needed. The trick in that case is when it is needed which is not always obvious.
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