Going through a divorce will almost certainly be a difficult and stressful experience for both parties. Dividing up finances and possessions and making arrangements for two new families can be a major task, but knowing the right things to ask and getting good advice can make the process run much more smoothly.
To help guide you through the initial stages of starting divorce proceedings, we have put together answers to some of the questions we are most frequently asked.
Can you get a divorce without a lawyer?
The short answer is yes. You are not legally required to instruct a solicitor, but we would recommend seeking professional advice and representation when going through the divorce process.
There is a lot of information available on the internet if you are considering attempting a “DIY divorce” but the tricky bit is working out whether it is accurate and legal. There is a risk of missing important steps or documents that could be detrimental to your case. Even a guide from a trusted source won’t be tailored to your personal circumstances and may mean that things are missed.
Having a legal expert in your corner who will follow the correct legal process and advise you along the way is important, as there are many pitfalls for the inexperienced and getting it wrong could be a costly and long-lasting mistake.
How to find a good divorce lawyer?
Divorce can be a sensitive time and you should look for a solicitor that you feel comfortable with. If you have already worked with a firm that you trust to do a good job, then they would be a good place to start. If not, then here are a few pointers to help with your search.
- Ask friends or family if they can recommend a family law solicitor
- Look at a firm’s Google reviews – this should give you a good indication of the experiences of other clients
- Most law firms will offer an initial consultation and sometimes free of charge. If they do, it is a good opportunity to “try before you buy”
- A law firm that mentions that they are legal jargon-free will be useful
- Are their fees communicated clearly? Although additional fees can be incurred, these should always be explained so that there are no nasty surprises
- Cheaper isn’t always best. Choosing a solicitor because they are cheaper than others could mean that they take on too many cases at once, or may not deliver a quality service, so do your homework first
What does a divorce lawyer do?
Here are some of the key things that your divorce lawyer/solicitor will do for you:
- Spend time getting to know your circumstances so their advice is tailored to you and not generic
- Advise you on the grounds for divorce and the legal process
- Help resolve any issues surrounding the divorce settlement (where you will live, financial implications and child arrangements)
- Help arrange a legal separation if you are not ready to divorce right away
- Prepare separation agreements and setting out how you wish to divide your assets such as property, and if there are children involved, the level of child maintenance necessary
- Help you agree (or challenge) child arrangements
- Help you with the mediation process if applicable to your case
- Represent you in the Family court if a hearing is necessary
- Negotiate with your ex-partner or their solicitor
- Make the necessary applications to the court and ensure that any agreements are signed off by the court so they are legally binding
- Help you reach a financial settlement
What questions to ask a divorce lawyer?
During the initial consultation with the divorce lawyer there should be an opportunity for you to ask questions. At this early stage you should ask;
- For an overview of the process and how long it is likely to take
- What sort of financial settlement you should expect
- How your assets and finances will be divided
- How any child arrangements are likely to work
- What are the lawyer’s fees – for example any fixed fees or hourly rates
- What other fees you can expect – for example court fees or barrister’s fees
A good divorce lawyer will cover all of these areas and will lead the consultation with questions that they need answered to be able to prepare your case and advise you properly.
Can you change lawyers in the middle of a divorce case?
As with most legal matters, you can change your lawyer/solicitor at any point during the divorce process. However, if you do choose to switch lawyers, it is important to bear in mind that you will need to pay the original solicitor any outstanding fees you owe for their work on your case up to the point of disinstructing them.
You should also carefully consider if this is the best decision for your case as a new solicitor will need time to get up to speed, which may cause a delay. They are also likely to duplicate some of the same work that your original solicitor has already charged you for.
Dependent on whether your divorce paperwork has been sent to the courts, certain legal procedures must be completed before a new solicitor can represent you, which can also delay proceedings.
How much does a divorce cost?
The cost of a divorce lawyer/solicitor can vary depending on the level of qualification and experience the legal professional has, the firm they work for and the level of complexity of the divorce.
At Backhouse Solicitors we offer a fixed fee service for no fault divorce, covering the divorce application. Where you need additional services such as Financial Consent Orders, these will incur an additional fee that we will agree with you in advance.
Family Law & Divorce Solicitors at Backhouse
The team at Backhouse Solicitors are experts in family law and divorce proceedings. If you have any questions about divorce and the divorce process, or would more details on how we can help, speak to one of our friendly team to book your free 30 minute consultation.
Tel: 01245 893400
Visit: 17 Duke Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1JU
Or send us a message through the Contact Us page on this website.