Divorce is a major turning point in many people’s lives. The decisions you make during your divorce will affect both of your futures and the future of your family for the rest of their lives. Divorce is also a highly emotional journey and emotions can often drive the legalities in unhelpful directions. There are many different ways to approach divorce and, like any project that you embark on for the first time, it is not easy to know which is the right approach to take, at the outset. Our Divorce Adviser service provides a steer for the whole picture, because the legalities can often be the simplest element but the way one approaches divorce can complicate matters, significantly.
The Competition and Markets Authority published a report on the legal market which tells us that consumers generally don’t know what they are looking for when buying legal services. Our Divorce Adviser service aims to arm you with knowledge about all of the options available to you both and the corresponding costs of each, so that you can make the best choice for your circumstances. The first session can take as long as you require for no extra charge.
There are many different professionals who could help you resolve your matter - barristers, arbitrators, lawyers, collaborative lawyers, McKenzie Friends (family law assistance), mediators, independent social workers and financial advisers who can advise on pensions, business valuations and any other complicated financial arrangements. These could all form a necessary part of the route to your settlement. You could also find yourself dealing with CAFCASS officers or Children's Social Care in Children Act proceedings. It is difficult to know, at the outset, which professionals will work best for you or will need to be involved.
It might be that you have recently exited an extremely emotionally difficult relationship. If this is the case, you might feel that one or both of you could benefit from therapeutic support alongside the process. For some people, gaining insight into their former relationship and learning new ways to communicate and consider their circumstances offers a greater sense of freedom than coming up with a solution to their finances.
Sometimes the law forms a very small part of the factors for consideration. Each set of circumstances is different and we seek to point you towards the support that would best fit your circumstances. Whilst many professionals can tell you what their role might be, very few will take the time to help you understand all of your options and to consider who would work best with you. These are important decisions and it is no consolation to recognise, only at the end of the process, just what the best course of action would have been.
As you progress towards resolution of your family matters and potentially as your needs change, we are happy to reconsider your options with you at any time.
Mediation is generally the least expensive option as your mediator is legally trained but also is experienced in directing you both towards the optimum agreement for the whole family.
Med-Arb is a combination of mediation and arbitration, whereby a mediator seeks to jointly come up with a settlement that you both agree with, but, in the absence of an agreement on a particular sticky issue, your practitioner can arbitrate that decision for you. You retain as much control of your circumstances as you are both happy to jointly decide and keep a closer handle on your own finances, should you need a third party to make a decision for you.
Even in a complicated case, arbitration, a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), can be the quickest, simplest and most cost effective solution to the application of law to your own, personal circumstances and can be better than instructing solicitors and battling it out together.
If you have a complicated set of circumstances but do not envisage going to court, you may find it most cost effective to work with a senior lawyer who might charge more but who will likely grasp the issues more quickly, thus charging you fewer hours. If your case does not seem to present complex issues, you may well be served with a less experienced legal adviser who charges a lower hourly rate and is more accessible.
If you believe you will both require legal support but would be more likely to seek to negotiate together, you might consider collaborative law in which both of you instruct collaboratively trained lawyers to work towards the joint goal of coming up with the best outcomes for everybody. Collaborative law is likely to be less expensive than the more traditional, adversarial negotiation practice, where you would negotiate via solicitors or in a round table meeting with solicitors, who are, each, instructed to advise on each set of individual circumstances only.
If you will be attending court for financial or children matters, it is now an option to instruct your barrister through the Direct Access scheme. Should you need background legal support, it is not necessarily the most cost effective option to instruct an expensive legal representative, as your legal advice, legal argument and presence in court will be covered by your barrister and the background services you require could well involve very little legal advice or argument, but merely legal support services.