Monday of the first working week after the New Year has long been regarded as “Divorce Day” by divorce lawyers and relationship counselors, since this is the date when most couples in troubled marriages decide to call it quits and call for legal and emotional support.
Making the decision to split can be a long and hard one. However, after the decision has been made, too many couples then panic and make knee jerk reactions when choosing a lawyer, and also could be saving thousands, even tens of thousands of pounds, throughout the divorce process if they are armed with the right information at the onset, advises Kate Ryan, a divorce lawyer and head of Family Law at Turbervilles Solicitors. Kate has written complimentary guide entitled “Heartbreak to Harmony” which aims to help anyone at the start of a marriage break-up and provides useful insights and top tips based on her fifteen years working on a broad range of divorce cases.
Here are some highlights from the guide (available at www.turbervilles.co.uk)
On choosing the right lawyer
- You may get recommendations from family and or friends but remember one size doesn’t fit all when you are choosing a lawyer.. Perhaps you will need a lawyer with expertise in children custodial issues or someone who understands the cultural or religious sensitivities pertaining to your divorce.
- Do make sure you talk or meet with the family law specialist(s) before making your decision who to appoint. Whilst you can do some initial research by looking at the law firm’s website, you will get a far better feel by talking on the phone or meeting face to face for half an hour. Most lawyers are happy to give a free consultation or offer a reduced cost for an initial meeting;
- Realise time is a valuable investment at this stage. I have known of too many cases where a person has panicked, made a knee-jerk reaction and appointed the first lawyer they spoke to and then had to change to a lawyer half way through the legal process because they were not happy or did not feel their lawyer had the necessary expertise.
- Make sure you feel at ease with them and he or she listens to you and how you want to approach matters
- Above trust your gut instinct – It is important you trust the lawyer and feel you can talk freely and easily to them throughout the process.
On reducing costs during a divorce
- If you are successful going down mediation or the collaborative route, then you and your spouse will save thousands of pounds by avoiding legal costs incurred by going to Court.
- Agree a fixed cost for the divorce with your lawyer and/or barrister
- If you have to go down the Court route, then try and secure a fixed cost for your case at the onset.
- Avoid using your lawyer as a counselor /emotional support. Emotions will run high throughout the divorce and you may have the urge to share your worries, pain and general fears with your lawyer. Remember the clock is running and you will could be charged by your lawyer. Establish a core group of friends /family you can confide and offload your feelings during the divorce process.
- Take on some of the administration. Some law firms offer their clients the opportunity to consult legal advice on an ad-hoc basis and you do the bulk of the leg/administration work (this is where time can easily mount up) such as chasing the Court for Hearing dates and getting the relevant forms such as Form E
- Make sure your lawyer sends you word documents and not PDFs for revisions. Be warned that some documents such as Form E (financial disclosure statements) can be lengthy once all details are filled in. Ask your lawyer to send you word documents rather than PDFs so you can make changes directly with track changes.
- Reduce emails /phone calls. Some lawyers will charge time for reviewing and sending a response back every email even if they are not giving advice. Try to only make phone calls to your lawyer if it is important such as responding within a short time-frame. Otherwise send emails which include a number of questions or issues, so your lawyer deals with one email only.
If you require any further information – call one of our team on 01895 201 700