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Solicitor's 'styles'

(56 Posts)
LouP19 Sat 17-Nov-12 20:56:51

My H left with no warning on 1st August. Since discovered he'd been having an affair and at that point the OW was 5 months pregnant. Five days after he left I discovered I am too also pregnant. OW does not know I am pregnant and he plans on keeping this a secret as long as he can. His behaviour since he left has been nothing short of cruel and cowardly - no acknowledgement of my pregnancy or the huge amount of distress he has put me under. We had been trying to conceive for 3 years,......

Anyway, his solicitor is sending short, terse letters more or less pressuring me into divorcing him asap on the grounds of his adultery. He wants me to 'go' quietly and quickly. The letters make no reference to my pregnancy or acknowledgement of his abandonment of me.

I'm receiving legal aid. My solicitor's letters are completely different to his. Where his solicitor writes one sided letters, mine will write 3 sides. I feel where one sentence will do, she will write 4. I have subtley changed a couple of her letters and we discussed this with her on Friday. She said she is not prepared to write in the style of his solicitor. As I'm receiving legal aid and she has signed up to some Family Law Ethics (can't remember the specifics) she believes her tone must always be reconcilitary to look like she's trying to resolve the issues rather than create more. She also raised the issue of costs and said it wasn't in my interest to make my situation any more difficult that it is at present.

I'm already in a vulnerable position - low wage earner, pregnant,... my H has shown no compassion, remorse or understanding of what he has done. I feel I need someone who will fight my corner, not someone who's going to write war and peace in response to his solicitor's demands, but who's ultimate aim appears to be to keep costs to a minimum.

Is this common (i.e. a clash in solicitor style?). Shall I trust her that she knows what she's doing?

Thanks

RoseWei Sat 17-Nov-12 22:15:39

Oh, so sorry to hear all this, Lou. What a tough time you're having.

On the face of it, your solicitor's approach is better - I've been at the receiving end of sharp missives from a solicitor in the past and it was awful - made a bad situation considerably worse. She's right in that conciliation is so much better - better law, better behaviour, than aggression.

But, obviously, if there'll be costs for you, long letters are hopeless unless they are actually achieving anything. Try to talk frankly with your solicitor about this. And find out as much as you can about your position re costs.

You should in no way feel under any pressure to do anything you don't want to do or are hesitant about doing - and certainly don't let a solicitor push you. I hope that your solicitor is telling him that plying pressure like this is unethical, to say the very least.

What do you want to do? Do you have other kids? Have you support round about you? Do you think that the OW should know that you - her lover's wife - is pregnant? Has he also kept it secret from his solicitor - no doubt your solicitor does write about it which suggests that OW doesn't know what's going on at all.

If your solicitor is a member of Resolution - the family law organisation -
[www.resolution.org.uk/]] - then they have a code of conduct. If you are worried - and she is a member - you could do worse than speak to them.

Your H is behaving like a complete shit - and it sounds as though his solicitor, instead of getting his client to grow up, is fueling things.

You and your solicitor need a strategy based on what you want - divorce later down the line/possibility of reconciliation/separation for the time being/any other number of possibilities.

Good luck - you're not alone and you and baby will get through this.

RoseWei Sat 17-Nov-12 22:18:02

sorry - link is:

www.resolution.org.uk/

Xenia Sat 17-Nov-12 22:20:16

Your solicitor's approach is much much better than his. It will get you a lot further.
Why not tell the other woman you are pregnant? That might be fun.
Clients often want solicitors to write very forceful nasty letters and often that is not the best way to do it.
Do not be rushed into this. In fact it may be in your interests to delay things so your baby is born whilst you are still married and his is born out of wedlock.

Do you own a house together and have you other children?

MrsMelon Sat 17-Nov-12 22:56:14

Lou, I have read many of your previous posts and was wondering how you were and what you had decided about the baby.

Xenia is right regarding staying married till the baby is born, you won't need him to be present or give permission for his name to be on birth certificate.

STIDW Sun 18-Nov-12 00:05:19

Good solicitors write letters which are reasonable so their client isn't prejudiced later on if the case goes to court. Aggression and hostility in correspondence might affect the outcome, in particular a costs order against you.

Collaborate Sun 18-Nov-12 01:42:35

You really need a settlement that is not only in your best financial interest but also is negotiated in an atmosphere that isn't fuelled by antagonistic correspondence between solicitors. Look on the resolution website - it contains a lot of useful information.

This is the guide to good practice [http://www.resolution.org.uk/site_content_files/files/guides_to_good_practice_2012_lo_res_merged.pdf]]

Look in particular at the section on correspondence. I hope you'll then understand why your solicitor is acting like she is. If after reading it you still don't subscribe to the notion that it is better not to be confrontational in these types of situations, it's a shame, as whenever I encounter inflammatory correspondence it invariably results in it taking longer to reach a settlement, and it also being more expensive.

I have to mention as well legal aid. It pays incredibly poor rates, so you'll appreciate that your solicitor should be doing whatever she can to achieve a particular end point, whatever that might be. She shouldn't be getting involved in personal squabbles, and to act as she is does not mean that she's not giving you best advice and standing up for you when appropriate.

MOSagain Sun 18-Nov-12 07:33:10

I agree with other posters, your solicitors tone is far preferable that than of your H's solicitor. Also, if she is a member of Resolution, she has to write letters in that tone.

I would question whether your H's solicitor is aware of your pregnancy? Surely your solicitor will have mentioned this?

If you do not feel ready to issue proceedings then do not be bullied into it. Do you have support in RL?

RedHelenB Sun 18-Nov-12 08:22:19

I made sure I delayed my divorce so our planned third baby knew they were wanted, father on birth cert etc. It also gave me leverage in financial negotiations because OW was scared stiff he would have a change of heart & they got married as soon as the ink on our divorce papers was dry!!

As to solicitors, I chose the male down to earth one as opposed to the female more sympathetic one because I felt he would get things done & would tell me things from ex's viewpoint so I had a realistic idea of what I could expect financially.

BTW, your ex's solicitor cannot bully you - you do what you want.

LouP19 Sun 18-Nov-12 09:49:16

Thank you very much, I feel considerably reassured this morning after reading your posts. smile

My husband has never disclosed where he is living. We traced him about 6 weeks ago via a PI, so I know the address, I know the name of the woman, I know their phone number!! It has of course been incredibly tempting to go round there and let her know the full story, but I have been advised to keep quiet, certainly until my baby is born (mid March). She is due mid December. So yes my H stayed at home, carried on living a 'normal' life (trying to conceive with me) when he knew SHE was pregnant. Since he left he has sent me a number of cards and text messages claiming he loves me, wants to be with me and he is so so sorry. So I have large amounts of ammunition that the OW has no idea about at present. These messages and cards clash considerably with the style of his solicitor's letters, which push for a divorce asap.

Anyway, I digress. I have said I will file for divorce in the new year, but am not going to be pressured to do anything on his terms. He told OW we were already separated and already in the process of getting divorce (!!) hence his urgency to get shot of me quickly. He has admitted to me he is only doing it to save his skin.

Horrible, horrible man.

Thank you again. I just hate receiving his solicitor's letters that are so brutal, make no reference to either pregnancy, no reference to what he's done, no reference to the distress it's caused. I would've have thought his solicitor would at least have advised him to acknowledge in some way what he has done,.... even if it only means I comply more readily with his demands for a quick divorce.

Have a lovely Sunday, any further advice welcome!

Xenia Sun 18-Nov-12 09:54:52

Lou, you are well rid of him.
I think his lawyer will just be doing his job. In fact since the 1970s we have had no fault divorce in the UK which is actually a good thing as it means it doesn't really matter who did what that does not affect contact with children and money.

Are we sure his lover is having his baby rather than someone else's?

I don't see why you cannot tell his lover you are pregnant. It will be your child's half sibling and she might then want to throw the father out before the baby is born next month. You may be able to find her on facebook or a work website if you want to email her personally not send a letter to the house which may be intercepted by your husband. He might have told her it isn't his child I suppose. If a baby is born whilst you are still married it is assumed to be the child of the father unless proved otherwise.

Collaborate Sun 18-Nov-12 10:02:27

Unfortunately we only have no fault divorce if you're prepared to wait 2 years and then only if you both agree.

Fortunately judges know that it's abominable to demand that the first a couple do on divorcing is slag each other off in a divorce petition so you can get divorced these days on very mild allegations.

Also, OP will be divorcing on adultery (if she chooses to go down that route) and I couldn't imagine a less contentious basis of a divorce petition in her case.

LouP19 Sun 18-Nov-12 17:01:50

Thanks, I know I am very well rid of him, his level of deceit has been astonishing. We were undergoing treatment at the fertility clinic, so this was a much wanted pregnancy and there can be no denying of his paternity. Why on earth he stayed with me when he knew she was pregnant I have NO idea,....

I feel torn between wanting to progress with my pregnancy without anymore stresses (I am amazed I haven't miscarried), and wanting to divorce him and get a financial settlement under my belt as soon as possible. I know whenever I do it it's going to be very difficult, but I've had so much to contend over the last few months (first discovering he'd moved out whilst I was at work, then discovering I was pregnant, then he confessed he'd had an affair, then he told me OW was pregnant),... that I just feel I need a quiet winter and Christmas.

Thank you again.

struwelpeter Sun 18-Nov-12 18:08:07

In a situation when my ex had obviously not told his solicitor the half of it regarding convictions and fact of ow rather than one relationship after another as well as a miscarriage, my resolution solicitor simply mentioned the pertinent facts in a letter to his sol. He was on legal aid and weirdly went on to self rep afterwards, so not sure what happened. But I guess solicitors hope/expect clients to be honest with them and may take a view if they are not?

Xenia Sun 18-Nov-12 18:54:13

Collaborate as I think you know the only ground for divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down - that is our no fault divorce and who is to blame makes no difference to child arrangements or money (unless someone is a danger to a child). you can prove that break down through unreasonable behaviour but just about anyone in the UK can write how their marriage has that within it - he did not like my mother, he was often rude to me - dead easy. In this case he has got another woman pregnant so you could either say he committed adultery or that he did unreasonable behaviour but the ground is no fault - marriage irretrievably broken down.

You could certainly get your lawyer to mention the baby if they have not already done because that is likely to have an effect on money. Not everyone takes 2 weeks leave from full time work for a baby as I do . Usually having a baby means a loss of some income

avenueone Sun 18-Nov-12 22:52:38

Putting the law to one side for a moment I think you would feel better about things if everything is out in the open i.e. OW knows you are pregnant - I would tell her.
From a legal stance if you are still married your ex will have parental responsibility rights and given how things have been/are do you want this? if you are not married when the child is born he would only go on the birth cert. if he goes with you to register the birth.
I think it would be easier going through divorce proceedings now rather than when you have a young baby to possibly look after alone and legal aid stops for these cases (unless there is DV) in April next year which may or may not make a difference to you?

MOSagain Mon 19-Nov-12 12:52:35

Yes, there is one ground for divorce, that the marriage has irretrivably broken down. However, it has to be backed up by one of five facts, the first two of which one party will be at fault, they will have committed adultery or behaved unreasonably. Even though one party may be at fault it rarely has an effect on the finances or children issues, only in very rare situations.

LouP19 Mon 19-Nov-12 15:29:14

Thank you again for your help.

Everyone I know who hasn't been through a divorce can't believe why I haven't been straight round to their address to let OW know the full story. They've all said she will want to know and I should expose my H for the liar he is.

However, many people who have been through something similar have told me to bide my time. I have no interest in naming her at the co-respondant - she is welcome to him. But I would like some justice in exposing the true situation,... i.e. telling her that I'm pregnant. That myself and my H had been attending fertility clinic appointments and had a 'good' marriage in the latter few months when he was claiming we were separated and filing for divorce. If I were her I would want to know. I am very angry and upset that he is living a lie in order to basically provide a roof over his head.

Do others on here agree it's sensible to keep quiet for now? I keep reminding myself it is in my best interests to do this!

RedHelenB Mon 19-Nov-12 16:01:56

I named the OW despite the solicitor advising me not to.

Waspie Mon 19-Nov-12 16:04:48

I'm not a solicitor so speak with no expertise at all but I think that Xenia makes a good point about loss of income while your baby is small. Do you work LouP19? (you mention getting legal aid)

If you do work and are taking maternity leave what are the terms your employer offers? Does it match your income?

Presumably your solicitor will want to make an application for spousal maintenance, at least while you are not working, as well as child support for the baby.

I can understand that your ex's solicitors letters are upsetting because they are so brusque and unemotional but I think you need to try and ignore the style and concentrate on getting what you want/need from your divorce rather than feel pressured into doing something by your ex purely to be rid of him and his solicitor.

Personally I'd wait until after the decree absolute and the financial settlement has been agreed before you tell the OW anything.

I think I read your thread - is your ex the man who took the chutney and pickles? shock Very best wishes for you and your baby.

Lou, as long as Chunt is living with OW and has a secure roof over his head (and not paying rent) he has no excuse for not providing you with the best possible financial settlement. If OW discovers the full extent of his deceitfulness before the financials are sorted, she might chuck him out and start claiming for maintenance for her own child. This would mean he would have much less left over in the pot for you and your baby.

LouP19 Mon 19-Nov-12 20:35:54

Yes, he is pickle man. The one who moved out all his belongings whilst at I was work, under the pretence of having a day off to 'paint the fence'.

I do work, but only part time. I'm entitled to 6 months on full pay, which is what I will take, then I will return to work. I'm aware I will need to increase my income at some point, but I do not want to be stressing about doing this in the first year or so (clearly got a lot on my plate at the moment and I enjoy my job and have a very good support network there).

I agree about waiting re: OW. It is so tempting, but I also realise it is in my interests for her to continue to provide a roof over his head for the next few months whilst we get divorced.

Xenia Tue 20-Nov-12 07:45:43

Good point from Lapsed, that the OW may find out and then throw the man out and he then has to pay rent somewhere so has very little money left to support both is children...One is assuming he will not be pushing for the babies both to live with him!

olgaga Tue 20-Nov-12 10:12:04

Hello Lou, sorry to hear you are still having doubts about your solicitor. I know you were concerned about the standard of the work and the number of errors in the draft letters in the early days. I think those are more important than her style to be honest. Your solicitor's style is bound to be different to his in the circumstances. His wants a quick fix as cheaply as possible, whereas yours needs a pretty comprehensive agreement given the circumstances you have been left in.

However, if your concerns remain about the standard of your solicitor's work, and not just their style, then yes I would be concerned. There is a lot riding on this from your point of view, and it may be that you would be better off shopping around non-legal aid solicitors if you can afford it, and view it as money well spent - an investment for your future.

I don't think there is any point pushing for a quick settlement, there's no rush from your point of view.

Even if you were to petition on the grounds of adultery now, it still takes months unless your ex is prepared in return to agree to a generous "clean break" financial settlement which would involve you getting a larger share of the assets to deal with your housing needs and reduced mortgage capacity.

Your ex's new partner will find out about the baby soon enough. He'll probably wait to tell her after their baby arrives - but are you sure she doesn't already know?

I would think your solicitor is trying to achieve a financial settlement without resorting to an order, as his circumstances and outgoings in relation to dependent children will be taken into account if that's where it ends up.

Really I suppose the thing that bothers me most of all is that you obviously find it hard to communicate with your solicitor - otherwise you wouldn't be posting here.

That alone would make me want to shop around.

Springhasarrived Sat 24-Nov-12 05:40:15

Hi Lou. I dont think I have ever posted on one of your threads before but I have followed your story. You have been amazing.

I am in exactly the same situation as you regarding solicitors and their styles. His solicitors letters are unbelievably rude and aggressive and also short! Shockingly he is also a member of Resolution. He also refuses to acknowledge the major issue in my situation of a convicted assault just in the same way your pregnancy is being ignored. He also refuses to use my new name despite my having sent him a copy of my deed poll, and my new name being on all other documents like valuations etc.

At the first financial hearing I saw this nasty little man for the first time. I have now privately named him Peter Petigrew from Harry Potter - you will get the drift if you know the series! He refused to make eye contact with me, which I thought was very telling.

My own solicitor, who is very good and whom I trust has said to me we will not sink to his level with the tone of our letters etc.

To cheer myself up over it, I tell myself I will complain to Resolution when this is all over. I probably wont but it helps!

You have my total sympathy over it all.

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