Ian Walker - Specialist Divorce SolicitorsSpecialist Divorce Solicitors

We are a firm of solicitors specialising in divorce law. Our practice also includes a mediation service. A large proportion of our practice involves assisting our clients through divorce.

We believe that our structure and philosophy assists us in helping our clients with their divorce in the best way.

Can you have a good Divorce?

It is certainly easy to have a bad divorce. A bad divorce is where it takes 12 months or so to sort out future financial arrangements and to obtain a Decree Absolute. A bad divorce involves spending thousands of pounds (perhaps borrowing money from family or commercially). It involves a lot of stress. Your children (including adult children) either take sides or are caught between warring parents. Sometimes relationships are lost and these take years to recover – if they are ever recovered at all.

The causes of a bad divorce are being caught in the emotions surrounding the separation and becoming trapped in a dispute with your future ex spouse.

This is often encouraged by optimistic advice about outcome or becoming stuck within wildly different views of what you are both “entitled to”. Sadly, a bad divorce can be contributed to by both solicitors and friends and family.

In contrast, a good divorce is one that is over quickly. The costs are kept manageable. Both parties and their legal advisers take a sensible and forward looking view of what a fair settlement should look like. Children are protected from becoming involved in adult disputes. Ultimately, both parties and any children are able to retain their good memories from the marriage and are better equipped when moving forward into the next phase of their lives.

It can be easier to achieve a bad divorce than is to achieve a good divorce.

Negotiation or Litigation?

All cases can be settled through sensible negotiation. Sadly, many cases do not settle without one party making an application to the court. There are cases which do not settle at all and ultimately require a Judge to make a decision.

As solicitors, we endeavour to give our clients realistic advice. This means obtaining a clear picture of the financial arrangements of the parties. It means undertaking an analysis which takes into account how the needs of both parties can be met as well as possible (the needs of any minor children being the first consideration).

We ask our clients to think very carefully about the outcome they wish to achieve. For example how important is it for them to continue to live in the family home – or is it more realistic to downsize? Is a divorce and opportunity to retrain and to take a new career path?

Negotiation requires finding a solution which is sufficiently fair and sufficiently acceptable to both parties. This means taking a sensible approach. Litigation means going to Court and ultimately a Judge making a decision. This requires one or both parties sticking with a position which is unreasonable or not sufficiently fair. The outcome of the court case will either be the Judge will find in favour of one (the more reasonable) or the Judge will decide something in between.

There is no outcome that a Judge could order which ultimately could not have been achieved by both parties sensibly negotiating.

Making use of Mediation/Collaborative Family Law/Arbitration

As well as being a Solicitors Practice we are also a Mediation Service. These are different disciplines. We cannot do both. However, we fully understand the benefits of mediation, and we will usually make an early referral to mediation (to mediators who we trust) – because this is usually the best thing to do for our clients. We are then able to support the mediation process with legal advice and with advice about how best to conduct negotiations within mediation.

As well as being a Mediator, Ian Walker is also a Collaborative Family Lawyer (a negotiation process with lawyers rather than a mediator) and an Arbitrator (essentially a private Judge).

We are able to offer all of our clients a full range of dispute resolution options. This means we can genuinely give our clients best advice as to the best process for them.

Beware of optimistic advice and cost estimates

Clients increasingly speak to more than one Solicitor before deciding who to instruct to assist them with their divorce.

Choosing who to instruct is an important decision. Clients should however be careful within such a beauty parade about optimistic advice and optimistic cost estimates.

Until all financial information is available it is very difficult to say definitively what a fair outcome will look like. This is often 50/50 – ish, but not always. There are other factors which sometimes come into play. Meeting needs is the biggest consideration – somewhere to live, and income, provision for retirement. The best advice at the outset is that you will both get a fair outcome. Either a fair outcome will be agreed or if it cannot be then a Judge will order a fair outcome.

Overly optimistic advice will make the case harder to settle – because whoever receives that advice will start to form an incorrect idea in their mind about what fairness is. This will make it harder to negotiate. However, some clients will choose a solicitor thinking that a will receive more… this can ultimately lead to disappointment.

It is also difficult to estimate costs at an initial meeting. The unknown factor is how the other party will conduct themselves – with or without legal advice, and how constructive the other solicitor will be.

We try to be as realistic as possible, even if it means we lose a beauty contest. We will give worse case scenario cost estimates. We can also sometimes be more pessimistic about outcome.

We will always be as honest and open and straightforward as possible. Part of this approach is to publish our charging rates on our website. Few solicitors do this. Why is that?We know that our hourly charging rates are competitive. We have nothing to hide.

Our approach to Divorce

Divorce is a life changing event. When we marry, we invest our future in a relationship. Whether it comes to an end quickly and catastrophically or slowly, the end of a marriage is an emotional time and a time of great uncertainty.

Divorce is particularly significant life event for children. Children are easily drawn in to the great emotional turmoil between their parents. Children can be damaged by Divorce. Divorce can be a loss of innocence. Children can blame themselves for their parents divorce. Many children lose touch with parents and grandparents after divorce.

Our approach to Divorce is set out more fully on a separate page. The gist is that we endeavor to follow the Resolution code of practice and to help steer our clients through their Divorce in a sensible way. We focus on outcomes. We endeavour to get our clients to a sensible and fair outcome within as short a timescale as possible whilst avoiding unnecessary costs.

Resolution Members

We are enthusiastic members of Resolution. Ian Walker is Chair of the Devon Region of Resolution. Carrie Meikle is on the committee of Young Devon Resolution (YRES). We follow the Resolution Code of Practice

Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors are a specialist Solicitors Practice. We are Divorce Solicitors in Honiton. We are also Divorce Solicitors in Exeter and we are Divorce Solicitors in Taunton

Contact us at team@familylawandmediation.co.uk or telephone 01404 819098