FAQ’s – Divorce

Ian Walker Portrait photoWho is the best divorce lawyer near me?

We try to answer this question in our page https://familylawandmediation.co.uk/family-law/divorce/best-divorce-lawyer/

Who will be your best divorce lawyer will not necessarily be the same as who will be the best divorce lawyer for someone else.

Making the right choice is very important. This is why we include so much information on our website including having video clips of our different team members – so that you know who they all are before you come in for your initial meeting.

Do I need an aggressive divorce lawyer?

To answer this question, we would ask you some questions in response;

  • What sort of divorce do you want?
  • What do you want your divorce experience to be?
  • Do you have children? If so, what do you want their experience of your divorce to be?

The law of divorce is very clearly about achieving fairness between the couple. The needs of any dependent children are the first consideration when deciding financial matters. The welfare of children and their needs are paramount when there are disagreements about child arrangements.

In order to achieve a negotiated settlement or a court order (often a clean break but not always, especially if there are children), there is a process that needs to take place. Negotiations and decision-making cannot happen until all relevant information is available. This includes financial disclosure from the couple and where relevant, the obtaining of independent advice about things such as the values of pensions and businesses.

If a sensible agreement cannot be reached through negotiation, the court will apply the law. In applying the law, the court is not approaching its decision-making on the basis of deciding between one person’s case or the other on a winner takes all basis. Instead, the court is looking at the facts and seeking to ensure that the law has been applied and that reasonable needs have been met in a fair way, that are appropriate to the marriage and the wider facts. The court is wishing to ensure that there is no discrimination. Of course, there are disagreements about what this means to the facts and resources of the couple – but the court is essentially adopting a problem-solving approach.

It is also the case that most financial settlements are achieved through negotiation.

There are a number of ways in which a negotiation can take place. Some will be better suited to a particular family than others. These include mediation, collaborative family law, solicitor – solicitor negotiation including through round table meetings or letter writing. Negotiations can be assisted by obtaining an independent evaluation from an experienced barrister (early neutral evaluation) or by arbitration – where a private judge will by agreement determine what is to be done about issues which may block a wider negotiated settlement.

If couples have children – the best arrangements for children are ones where their parents are able to agree arrangements – based upon the needs of their children – rather than their parents. (Children rarely demand that their time is spent exactly 50/50 between their parents – children are more focused on quality, reliability, predictability and not having to listen to their parents say horrible things about each other and feeling uncomfortable talking about one parent in the household of the other). These arrangements are best achieved and sustained through talking. They are best achieved through parents  behaving towards each other in a respectful way and a rebuilding of trust (the circumstances which led to the breakdown of the marriage will of course damage trust between parents – but this doesn’t mean that they can’t put the issues between them to one side so that they can make arrangements work for their children).

So, what type of divorce lawyer is best?

Do you need an aggressive divorce lawyer?

Will an aggressive divorce lawyer help me achieve a better settlement?

Our view is that a divorce lawyer who goes out of their way to be aggressive will not help you achieve a positive divorce experience. Rather, they risk pushing up costs, delaying / preventing a negotiated settlement.

There are different styles of negotiation, and the most successful style is rarely salami slicing. This is where there are two inflexible positions – and each side make small concessions until an agreement is reached somewhere in the middle.

The instruction of aggressive lawyers will often go hand-in-hand with each side setting out proposals on the far edge of what a Court might consider reasonable (if not beyond) and which will be demanding for the other side to agree. Either the case will then proceed quickly to court, or there will be long letter after long expensive letter as the salami slicing negotiation can proceeds.

The impact of this upon the couple is that have trust in their own solicitor, they will increasingly be of the view that the other party and their lawyer are being completely unreasonable and demanding – and this will make relations between the couple even worse.

Aggressively written letters can also be worded such that they upset the reader.

A better style of negotiation is a problem-solving style. This means understanding the needs of each of the couple and trying to construct a reasonable outcome which meets the reasonable needs of both (with their children being the first consideration), and does so in a way that both will view as (reasonably) fair. (This is the approach of the court).

Successful negotiation is about achieving win/win’s. Can I find ways of achieving what I need/want by allowing the other party to achieve what they need/want? The more that the other party can see that you are trying to meet their goals (even if not always successfully), the more amenable they will often be to the meeting of your own goals.

Such a style of negotiation will avoid making premature or unrealistic proposals.

In this context someone embarking upon a divorce is better served by instructing a divorce lawyer who is:

  • experienced,
  • who perhaps also has additional understanding of negotiation skills (through being a mediator or collaborative family lawyer),
  • who is a member of Resolution and subscribes to their code of practice.
  • Who is not aggressive – but rather is able to present difficult issues in a way that is reasonable but firm.
  • Who was able to be pragmatic and principled, but whose communication skills will not unnecessarily windup the other party and exacerbate the differences between them.

Being reasonable and pragmatic is not being weak.

The reasonable and pragmatic problem-solving lawyer will pursue nondisclosure and will conduct court proceedings where necessary. But if there are court proceedings, the court is more likely to be impressed by arguments which are based on trying to achieve fairness and reasonableness in a reasonable way, than by arguments based simply on maximising the position of one party. In our experience, it is better that when in a position to make a proposal, that this is framed in a way that is reasonable outcome (and then being firm on this) rather than it being a overoptimistic starting point.

The answer to the question – do I need an aggressive divorce lawyer?

The answer is no if you want to maximise your prospects of divorcing and resolving associated issues in a reasonable way.

But yes if you want to maximise your prospects of having a difficult and expensive divorce.

We know which route we would choose.

Lady counting moneyHow much does a divorce cost?

There are three elements to a divorce. These are the divorce itself and then the resolution of each of the financial issues that arise from separation, and the child arrangement issues which arise from separation.

The divorce itself is a fairly straightforward process. There is a court fee of £550. There is about three – four hours lawyer work to finalise the divorce (as petitioner). The process is recently straightforward – but there are pitfalls.

The first contact with the other party about the divorce requires sensitivity as does the wording of any unreasonable behaviour (if alleged).

It is the sorting out of finance and child arrangements issues which will give rise to the significant costs. It is impossible to give a reasonable range without meeting you and understanding your situation.

What we can say, is that outcomes achieved through sensible negotiation will inevitably be cheaper than a contested court process. We are specialists in negotiation.

What we do offer is a fixed fee option for both Finance and children cases. There cannot be one size fits all for these.

We are able to offer a fixed fee option once we have a better understanding of you and the issues. Factors in the fixed fee will also include the attitude and cooperative this of the other party and their lawyer. Some lawyers are easier to do (sensible) business with than others. But if you are worried about costs, we will do our best to assist with fixed fee options.

Who are the cheapest divorce lawyers near me?

How are you measuring cheap?

You will only know the cost of the divorce when the divorce has completed.

Divorce lawyers will give a cost estimates. These can vary (sometimes significantly). It doesn’t follow that the divorce lawyer giving the lowest cost estimate is necessarily giving the most accurate cost estimate. We conducted our own mystery shopping exercise a couple of years ago and received wildly different cost estimates for the piece of work about which we were asking for quotes.

Sometimes the divorce lawyer will be quite cautious (and realistic). Sometimes they will be (sometimes inadvertently) unrealistic and/or seeking to please the potential client.

The divorce lawyer hourly rates will also be relevant. Again these can vary. But these will not in themselves be the whole picture. In larger teams, the work will often be undertaken (more efficiently) by a combination of lawyers. This means that not all the work is undertaken at the headline rate.

A divorce lawyer in a smaller team – perhaps working on a lower hourly rate – may not have the resources to support them that the divorce lawyer in a larger team would have. They may do all the work themselves – and therefore the ultimate costs would be similar.

See also our answer to: do I need an aggressive divorce lawyer?

Your cheap divorce lawyer (on whatever measurement you choose to define cheap) may also be an aggressive divorce lawyer and calls immeasurable harm to parental relationships and ultimately calls more costs by failing to assist you in achieving a sensible negotiated settlement.

Lawyer costs should also be measured against the settlement achieved. You could instruct a divorce lawyer and ask them not to properly investigate the finances of the other and/or avoid instructing a divorce lawyer and simply agree the unreasonable proposal which the other party is making. (Often clients misunderstand the implications pension rights). It is very easy to avoid legal costs one way or another and as a result achieve a bad settlement.

Sometimes it may be worth spending the extra money on an experienced divorce lawyer to achieve a better settlement or the confidence that you will definitely be achieving a fair settlement.

The price paid can be measured in different ways. We would not recommend anyone make any instruction simply on the basis of who they think will be the cheapest.

How long does a divorce take?

This will vary from case to case. The divorce itself is normally relatively straightforward and a decree absolute could be obtained within four – six months.

Overall, most divorces take longer because the the divorce itself is not finalised until financial issues have been fully resolved.

How long your divorce will take will depend upon what needs to be resolved in terms of financial and children issues and how long these take to resolve. Normally sensible negotiation is the quicker way of achieving finality.

Do I have to get divorced in the country where I got married?

In short – no.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can get divorced in the country where you are currently living.

Options will vary from case to case. But if you are for example a UK couple who got married on a holiday in Las Vegas or somewhere else, but continue to live in the UK – then you would get divorced in the UK.

If there is a foreign element it is always important to take advice as consideration should be given to the comparative divorce laws in different jurisdictions where it may be possible to obtain a divorce.

Do I need a solicitor for my divorce?

We would say yes.

Divorce is a legal process. The obtaining of a decree absolute will affect the legal rights of each of the couple. Whilst there may be some of the work in obtaining a divorce that you can do yourself, it is very important that you obtain legal advice to understand how the divorce will affect you and your family and whether there are steps that need to be taken to protect you and your children.

Can I move out of our home before we a divorced?

The answer to this will vary on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes moving out of the family home can be helpful – because arguments and bad atmospheres are avoided. In other cases there may be strong reasons why it is not you who should move out but the other person.

We would always recommend obtaining legal advice at an early stage so that you can understand the pros and cons of each option.

Do we need a financial order?

The answer to this question is that you need to come in for some legal advice in order to discuss your situation. The answer is also usually yes you do need a financial order.

What is Collaborative Family Law?

You can find the answer to this question here: https://familylawandmediation.co.uk/what-is-collaborative-family-law/

Collaborative family law can be a very good dispute resolution process for the right couples.

What happens if we don’t get a financial order?

When a couple divorce, each as a matter of law has financial claims that they can make against the other. These include claims for a lump sum order or maintenance.

The financial order will decide what should happen to these claims. If the order is a clean break, then there will be a final financial redistribution. If there is not a complete clean break, it is usually the case that issues of capital (housing, savings and pensions et cetera) will be decided but there will be ongoing maintenance and often, after a period of adjustment there will be a final clean break after a period of time (what this will be will vary from case to case, and whether there are relevant children will also be relevant).

If financial claims are not pursued at the time of the divorce then they can be reactivated at a later date (unless the person seeking to make the financial claim has remarried).

A widely reported case which took place a couple of years ago where this happened was the case of Vince and Wyatt https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jun/10/ecotricity-founder-dale-vince-time-limit-divorce-payout-claims

At the time of their separation and divorce Mr Vince and Ms Wyatt lived an alternative lifestyle and have limited resources. In the years after their divorce, Mr Vince had become a successful businessman. Ms Wyatt pursued a financial claim 20 years after their divorce. Ms Wyatt received a financial settlement. Whilst the settlement was not what it would have been if the couple had remained together and the court was deciding the financial settlement at the time of a current divorce – Mr Vince was nevertheless required to pay what would have been to Ms Wyatt a significant sum of money.

Whilst this type of case is unusual – it illustrates that if there is not a financial order at the time of the divorce that there could be further proceedings and costs later.

What is a clean break?

A clean break is a court order which dismisses the financial claims that each of the couple of the marriage are able to bring against the other (arising from the marriage).

In other words it is a final financial order.

Can I get the other person to pay my divorced costs?

It is possible for the court to make costs orders both in respect of the divorce itself and when making orders in respect of financial issues and children issues. The circumstances in which costs orders are made can be complicated but generally costs orders are not made.

What can happen is that were one of the couple has and the resources to fund legal representation for a divorce (dealing with financial issues) and the other does not, then the court can make an order requiring the one of the couple with the resources to pay money to the other so that they can have representation.

All cases are different and you should come in for some advice.

Can I get help with the legal costs of my divorce?

All cases are different and you should come in for some advice.

There are different ways in which this can be achieved. The options will depend upon your circumstances.

Sometimes the other person can be asked to pay your legal costs.

Other times it is possible to borrow money from a specialised lender who will lend in the knowledge that you will acquire resources at the end of the divorce in order to repay the loan.

Legal aid is still available to help some – although the circumstances where this is available is restricted. If money is recovered as a result of being legally aided then the legal aid agency will want to be repaid.

Will I have to sell my house when I get divorced?

Not necessarily. What will happen will vary depending upon the circumstances of the case.

When the court is considering what is a fair financial settlement the needs of any minor children are the first consideration. This can lead to situations where the children remain in the family home with one of their parents.

Fairness may require the house to be sold when the children have completed their full-time education (including university) or more usually a lump sum order to be paid to the other party at that stage – which means that there could still be the option of retaining the house of circumstances allow.

All cases the different and you need to get some advice.

When will I be able to get remarried?

You will be able to get remarried when you are divorced.

This means achieving a Decree Absolute. However, it may not be a good idea to get remarried soon as the decree absolute has been obtained. This will have implications on the ability to make financial claims against the other party and if there are financial proceedings in progress this will also be relevant.

If there has not been a final financial settlement you should certainly seek legal advice before deciding when to get married.

Getting legal advice to understand what the options are and how your rights will be affected is always a good idea.

Are there alternatives to getting divorced?

There are alternatives to getting divorced.

One option is always to reconcile. It may be that professional assistance is needed to understand why there are problems within the marriage, and what can be done to make the marriage a happy one.

If reconciliation is not possible then it is possible for a couple to separate but to not divorce. There are situations where it would be a good idea to have a separation agreement (a legal contract between the separated couple which might deal with issues such as maintenance and other financial support and child arrangements or a more formal judicial separation.

If you are separating and are not sure whether you want to get a divorce straightaway or at all it would be a good idea to get some legal advice.

What is a separation agreement?

A separation agreement is a legal contract between the separated couple which might deal with issues such as maintenance and other financial support and child arrangements. It can also include agreements about when a divorce will take place.

This can be a good idea – but whether it is a good idea will vary from case to case – and so we would recommend that you get some legal advice to understand whether it is the right option for you.

Do both spouses need a divorce lawyer?

We would certainly recommend it.

Do divorce lawyers do payment plans?

We recognise that funding legal services can be challenging.

Payment plans are a problem for the lawyer because of consumer credit regulation.

There are various ways of securing funding to pay legal costs. These can include:

  • getting agreement/a court order to require the other person to pay your costs
  • taking out a litigation loan (which will depend upon whether you are likely to require money/assets as a result of the divorce)
  • general commercial borrowing – e.g. a credit card
  • legal aid (in some limited circumstances – and subject to a means test)
  • borrowing money from within your family.

We appreciate that our clients value certainty and are happy to offer fixed fee options. There is more on this in the funding section of our website https://familylawandmediation.co.uk/payments-2/

Do I need a divorce lawyer?

A divorce lawyer specialises in divorce law. They will give you advice specific to your situation so that you understand the legal implications of the divorce upon you and your family and they will assist you in ensuring that issues arising from the divorce will be resolved in a fair and reasonable way.

How can a divorce lawyer help?

A divorce lawyer specialises in divorce law. They will give you advice specific to your situation so that you understand the legal implications of the divorce upon you and your family and they will assist you in ensuring that issues arising from the divorce will be resolved in a fair and reasonable way.

How can I afford a divorce lawyer?

See the answer to: Do divorce lawyers have payment plans? above

How can I find a good divorce lawyer?

See the above answers to: Who is the best divorce lawyer near me? And Do I need an aggressive divorce lawyer? These answers are located at the top of the page

How much can a divorce lawyer cost?

See the above answers to: Who is the best divorce lawyer near me? And Do I need an aggressive divorce lawyer? These answers are located at the top of the page.

it is impossible to say what the costs will be without know more about your case. Please get in touch.

How much is a good divorce lawyer?

See the above answers to: Who is the best divorce lawyer near me? And Do I need an aggressive divorce lawyer? These answers are located at the top of the page.

It is impossible to say what the costs will be without know more about your case. Please get in touch.

Stacks of pound coinsHow to pay for divorce lawyer?

See the above answers to: Do divorce lawyers do payment plans?

It is impossible to say what the costs will be without know more about your case. Please get in touch.

How to rate a divorce lawyer?

We try to answer this question in our page https://familylawandmediation.co.uk/family-law/divorce/best-divorce-lawyer/

Should a couple use the same divorce lawyer?

It is possible for a divorce lawyer to prepare a financial order on a neutral basis. However in doing this they would not be giving advice. They would simply be drafting a document. They would make clear that the couple should each obtain their own independent legal advice.

The best advice that a divorce lawyer might give to one of the couple is unlikely to be the same as the best advice that they would give to the other of the couple. There are also issues of confidentiality. This means that there would be a conflict-of-interest between the divorce lawyer and the interests of each of the couple.

The answer is that the same divorce lawyer cannot act for the couple at the same time if they are being asked for advice. If advice is required then the couple need separate divorce lawyers.

Should I tell my divorce lawyer everything?

Yes. In divorce proceedings the couple have an ongoing duty to provide full and frank disclosure of relevant information/material.

If you have not been frank about your situation to the court then this could have serious implications including in terms of costs and outcome.

There is a duty of confidentiality between a solicitor and their client – legal professional privilege. The solicitor cannot give you the best advice unless they are aware of all relevant information.

You do not necessarily have to follow the advice of the solicitor – and the solicitor will explain what will happen if you choose not to. However what is fundamentally important is that you are making informed choices. This means that the solicitor needs to know everything that is relevant so that they can give you the best advice.

What can a divorce lawyer do for me?

A divorce lawyer specialises in divorce law. They will give you advice specific to your situation so that you understand the legal implications of the divorce upon you and your family and they will assist you in ensuring that issues arising from the divorce will be resolved in a fair and reasonable way.

What can divorce lawyers do?

A divorce lawyer specialises in divorce law. They will give you advice specific to your situation so that you understand the legal implications of the divorce upon you and your family and they will assist you in ensuring that issues arising from the divorce will be resolved in a fair and reasonable way.

What documents should I take to a divorce lawyer?

If you are asking a solicitor for some initial advice on a free half an hour interview – firstly don’t expect any advice (because they cannot advise without having full information and opening a file and other related insurance reasons). Also if you are presenting a solicitor with lots of documents – you need to allow them time to read through them to understand what the documents mean.

We offer a free initial chat (without advice) which can assist a client getting to know us and having some idea of the process options. But we like most solicitors do charge for the initial meeting with advice. We always encourage clients to send us relevant documents before that meeting so that we have a chance to have a look through these and prepare for meeting our client. This ensures that we both have a better meeting.

Child on beachWhat should I ask my divorce lawyer?

What you would want to ask divorce lawyer will include:

  • What a reasonable financial settlement will look like? (If they have enough information that they can say)
  • what options are there in terms of process to achieve that settlement?
  • Their view as to the best process for you and your family?
  • to be given broad indication about what the costs could be?
  • Whether the divorce lawyers able to offer a fixed fee option?

Hopefully you will already have done your research – see our answer to: what should I look for in a divorce lawyer? This is located nearby on this page.

Most importantly – you should ask your divorce lawyer about anything that is particularly worrying you?

What should I bring to my divorce lawyer?

If you are asking a solicitor for some initial advice on a free half an hour interview – firstly don’t expect any advice (because they cannot advise without having full information and opening a file and other related insurance reasons). Also if you are presenting a solicitor with lots of documents – you need to allow them time to read through them to understand what the documents mean.

We offer a free initial chat (without advice) which can assist a client getting to know us and having some idea of the process options. But we like most solicitors do charge for the initial meeting with advice. We always encourage clients to send us relevant documents before that meeting so that we have a chance to have a look through these and prepare for meeting our client. This ensures that we both have a better meeting.

What should I expect from my divorce lawyer?

You should expect your divorce lawyer to look after your interests and to assist you in obtaining a fair financial settlement and arrangements for your children which are focused on their needs.

What should I look for in a divorce lawyer?

What you should look for in a divorce lawyer should be the following:

  • That they are a member of Resolution http://www.resolution.org.uk/code/
  • That they have relevant accreditations from the Law Society and/or Resolution including being Collaborative Family Law or Mediation (which means they have specialist skills in terms of negotiation)
  • if they are a more junior divorce lawyer, then they a part of a team with experienced colleagues.
  • That there someone who you are able to form a good professional relationship with and whose advice you will have confidence with.
  • They should have an outcome focused approach – which means having the confidence to support you through mediation or collaborative family law if either is appropriate – rather than simply proceeding on a default setting of court application.
  • There are good solicitors who work in micro-practices – but there are very often substantial benefits from your divorce lawyer being part of a bigger team.
  • The divorce lawyer being part of a specialist team/practice is also usually a good idea.

We try to answer this question in more detail on our page https://familylawandmediation.co.uk/family-law/divorce/best-divorce-lawyer/

What should I tell my divorce lawyer?

You should tell your divorce lawyer everything that is relevant. They cannot give you the best advice unless they have all the relevant information.

Very often the solicitor will have a long list of questions which they will run through with you. There may be something very specific to your case which is relevant and which is not covered by one of the usual questions – in which case you need to tell them.

What to ask a divorce lawyer?

What you would want to ask divorce lawyer will include:

  • What a reasonable financial settlement will look like? (If they have enough information that they can say)
  • what options are there in terms of process to achieve that settlement?
  • Their view as to the best process for you and your family?
  • to be given broad indication about what the costs could be?
  • Whether the divorce lawyers able to offer a fixed fee option?

Hopefully you will already have done your research – see our answer to: what should I look for in a divorce lawyer? This is located nearby on this page.

Most importantly – you should ask your divorce lawyer about anything that is particularly worrying you?

What to ask divorce lawyer at first meeting?

What you would want to ask divorce lawyer will include:

  • What a reasonable financial settlement will look like? (If they have enough information that they can say)
  • what options are there in terms of process to achieve that settlement?
  • Their view as to the best process for you and your family?
  • to be given broad indication about what the costs could be?
  • Whether the divorce lawyers able to offer a fixed fee option?

Hopefully you will already have done your research – see our answer to: what should I look for in a divorce lawyer? This is located nearby on this page.

Most importantly – you should ask your divorce lawyer about anything that is particularly worrying you?

Which divorce lawyer?

See the above answers to: Who is the best divorce lawyer near me? And Do I need an aggressive divorce lawyer? These answers are located at the top of the page.

it is impossible to say what the costs will be without know more about your case. Please get in touch.

Who is a good divorce lawyer?

See the above answers to: Who is the best divorce lawyer near me? And Do I need an aggressive divorce lawyer? These answers are located at the top of the page.

it is impossible to say what the costs will be without know more about your case. Please get in touch.

Who is the best divorce lawyer?

See the above answers to: Who is the best divorce lawyer near me? And Do I need an aggressive divorce lawyer? These answers are located at the top of the page.

it is impossible to say what the costs will be without know more about your case. Please get in touch.

Who is the best divorce lawyer near me?

See the above answers to: Who is the best divorce lawyer near me? And Do I need an aggressive divorce lawyer? These answers are located at the top of the page.

it is impossible to say what the costs will be without know more about your case. Please get in touch.