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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

olgaga Fri 30-Nov-12 17:49:17

Yes you can Lou, you can go anywhere you like.

Have you asked around in case any of your friends know of a good family lawyer? If not, you might want to start your search on the Resolution website. There are plenty listed in your locality there who do LA too.

LouP19 Fri 30-Nov-12 17:07:34

Can I get a free 30 mins elsewhere without my current solicitor being aware of this?

alli1968 Fri 30-Nov-12 15:17:53

Lou
Is there a Head of Practice that you could speak to at the same firm. Its always awkward to go over someones head but maybe worth a thought?

am a from the beginning lurker with oodles of respect xx

LouP19 Fri 30-Nov-12 15:07:58

I've now had another 'draft' letter from my solicitor that makes several important omissions and misses some key points that were raised in my email to her (and also in his latest solicitor's letter to me).

My Mum and I are spending hours amending facts in each of these letters from her,........ angry She is not properly reading anything.

Time to start looking around for other solicitors, I am getting so annoyed by all this, it's the last thing I need.

olgaga Tue 27-Nov-12 16:30:02

the last few months have been very difficult and I desperately want a quiet restful holiday period before I have to deal with it all

Not much to ask really! Your priority has to be you and your baby.

LouP19 Tue 27-Nov-12 16:12:46

Thank you for your posts and advice. smile

I fully intend to file in the NY (bar any complications with the pregnancy), so at least I get the process well started before my due date. I also want to feel it was ME who divorced him. Having said that, I just don't want to be doing it in the run up to Christmas,.....just feel the last few months have been very difficult and I desperately want a quiet restful holiday period before I have to deal with it all.

As for OW, well, I'm torn between feeling sorry for her and hating her. I suppose that's normal. She clearly didn't get pregnant accidently, but on what information my H was telling her,....... well who knows. And she is going to have to find out the truth sooner rather than later.

olgaga Tue 27-Nov-12 09:56:07

Yes I think I'd be inclined to start the process by January at the latest anyway, however you're feeling. The sooner the fundamentals (ie the finances) are sorted out, the better.

There's no good time to deal with a divorce, but I think it would probably be better to get most of the paperwork sorted before you have a newborn demanding your attention 24/7, and the sleep deprivation that goes with that.

RedHelenB Tue 27-Nov-12 09:48:21

Lou - it is classic bull sh*t from a coward - he will be telling you one thing & her another. Personally I would start the divorce as you are more in control as you have said it won't be completed before baby is born. (This is what I did)

olgaga Tue 27-Nov-12 09:43:28

Oh dear Lou, I do feel for you. This should be a happy, stress-free time. The emails you are receiving show little regard for your well-being, but as we have explored on another thread it is par for the course for men who walk out like this. What a terrible business.

I wouldn't expect you to have any sympathy for the OW but I don't envy her either. She will soon give birth and then make the awful discovery that his situation is rather more complicated than she has been led to believe. I would hazard a guess that this is the reason why he now appears to be making some attempt to explore his options.

Heroine's advice, to choose a good, wise friend to help you talk through the process, is excellent. Someone who will provide tea and sympathy, but who can also be knowledgeable, objective, and strategic. It'll help to reduce your stress and maintain your confidence.

LouP19 Tue 27-Nov-12 08:49:41

No, other woman hasn't,.... yet. But from everything he has said and indicated the relationship isn't going to last. He told her we were living separate lives (that old chestnut) and were merely waiting for the right time 'financially' to move on with our lives. She is 39, divorced 2 years ago, with no children, and clearly felt her biological clock ticking very loudly and got pregnant 'accidently'. My H has also said to me, in writing (!!), that he doesn't believe her pregnancy is accidental. He has also confirmed that at the moment she is merely providing a roof over his head and he's 'completely trapped'.

The whole thing is a fucking mess. He really needs to go somewhere on his own for a few months, get counselling and sort his life out. Although I appreciate this isn't my problem. However, it is not going to be easy negotiating a divorce with someone who is doing it all through fear of dealing with the truth.

cumfy Tue 27-Nov-12 00:31:45

grovelling email at work saying he's lost his one true love (i.e. me) and that he wants to turn the clock back

So has OW given him the elbow ?

MerryChristMoose Mon 26-Nov-12 20:43:29

Can I just add, as a family law Solicitor, that we do get nightmare clients! Some clearly don't read what we've written and despite asking for full disclosure (12 months bank statements etc) we sometimes struggle to get it. His Solicitor might think he's an arse too smile

Heroine Mon 26-Nov-12 20:34:10

I am proud! smile you already are hardening up a bit and trying to see through things. Irespective of his genuineness you have to view his emails about 'turning back the clock' as possible tactics to soften you up to not be so harsh as to make divorce difficult.

I learnt this from my parents - my dad was very tactical - pulling the emotional strings but in the background signing leases on new properties, moving funds away into other accounts, and having serious 'meetings' with relative of OW etc to discuss how to 'manage' my mum.

BTW you are not in a vulnerable position at all. In divorce, being low wage-earner, pregnant, female etc puts you in a very strong position. You will need maintainence, child costs, appropriate housing etc.

Undoubtedly that is why he is wanting to make the emotional appeals and sympathy so you don't tear his balls off financially as the cards seem to be pointing towards.

Having said that , if you are unahppy with your solicitor. Change them, don't agonise.

LouP19 Mon 26-Nov-12 20:26:21

Thank you all. I have the Which guide to divorce.

My husband has admitted to me that he wants a quick divorce because OW doesn't yet know I'm pregnant. However, I'm due in mid-March, so we will not be divorced by then. I've had health problems associated with this pregnancy ever since my H walked out (on medication for anxiety not surprisingly), so we asked if he would give me until the New Year until I file given the huge shock I had when he moved out. He has agreed to do this, but threatened if I don't file by 31.1.13, he will. This will be when I'm 7/8 months pregnant. He has since, last week, sent me a grovelling email at work saying he's lost his one true love (i.e. me) and that he wants to turn the clock back. I'm afraid I am dealing with a true mental case - saying one thing, doing another, all the bloody time. He has admitted he needs a quick divorce merely to corroborate his bullshit story with the OW and to keep a roof over his head. His quote is 'I have nowhere else to go'. All this at the same time as not wanting to pressure me or put my health or his son's at risk.

It is unbelievable, if I were reading this in some crappy magazine I found in a Doctor's reception I wouldn't believe that people can lead lives like this.

Anyway, I digress, but my case is definitely not straightforward. But thank you all for your comments, I appreciate them. Divorce is going to be bad enough, but it's even harder when you'd doing it with someone who appears to be having some weird mental breakdown at the same point. And amongst all the hard facts and reality of it all, I'm carrying a baby that we tried to conceive for 3 years,............

Chubfuddler Mon 26-Nov-12 18:29:25

None of the family solicitors I know are the driving force behind protracted, bitter and petty child arrangements/ financial matters. Some clients manage to be bitter and petty all by themselves.

Whoever said you must regard your husband as a stranger was speaking the truth op.

Heroine Mon 26-Nov-12 18:06:27

The which guide to divorce is great. Also get a good intelligent friend to read it and help with tactics - you will be emotionally invested to the max, which might allow you to make the wrong decisions (for the right reasons of course) but you need to be helped back from that.

That book suggest s that it doesn't really matter who petitions first.

Heroine Mon 26-Nov-12 18:03:06

1. All the advice about divorce suggests be sensible and split fairly
2. Adversarial divorces rarely (if ever) make any sense.
3. But solicitors will make much more money from adversarial divorces - that is why 1 and 2 apply so acutely.

If his solicitor (or he) is being an arse, that is his lookout. Don;t be drawn in, but do point out that he will be paying you to take on the new child and he is better being sensible and having some money to pay you than giving all the money to his solicitor and then having to pay out of earnings.

Get yours to suggest a fair and equitable settlement based on need and make it very clear that if an adversarial unfair approach is taken you will seek 100% of costs from his half of the deal.

If the style is short, but there are no real threats just assume that his solicitor is unskilled.

The fact is, if it does go to court, they will side with the most reasonable problem solving letters.

olgaga Mon 26-Nov-12 17:51:55

"There is one other matter which needs to be mentioned. Sometimes one of the parties to the divorce asks that the other side does not apply for decree nisi to be made absolute until financial matters have been settled. This is not always appropriate and there have to be particular circumstances present to justify it. All the same, those circumstances are not uncommon and if they exist a court would agree not to entertain an application for decree absolute until financial matters have been settled. Where this applies it can significantly delay the time it takes to obtain decree absolute."

From here.

Collaborate Mon 26-Nov-12 15:44:18

The only way in which divorce could be delayed in a non-separation petition is if the court is unable to pronounce satisfaction in relation to the arrangements for the children.

olgaga Mon 26-Nov-12 15:32:12

Presumably what's happening here is that your solicitor is trying to drag it out as long as possible so that you have given birth before a decree absolute can be issued. His solicitor is trying to get it done as soon as possible because that would be in your ex's interests.

However, if I remember rightly, from your other threads, your baby is due in mid-February. Even the most straightforward divorce is going to take at least 4 months because of the enforced 6 week wait between the nisi and absolute.

This is a horrible time for you to be enduring this heartless treatment, but unfortunately it's not really up to his solicitor to try to persuade your ex do the decent thing - unless it could harm his case. I'm afraid his conduct needs to be on another level entirely for that to happen. It is a very impersonal process, dealing with a highly personal matter.

Anyway, even if he did Petition for divorce tomorrow on the grounds that you ate all his favourite chutney, and the nisi was miraculously granted in double-quick time, your solicitor could make an application to the court to delay the issue of the decree absolute on the basis that there are are "special circumstances" to delay the issue of the decree absolute before financial matters can be agreed.

Pregnancy is not a "defence", but I would be rather surprised if it did not count as a "special circumstance". Depending where you are in the country, you could delay proceedings by another month simply by making the application.

So I'm sure you won't be disadvantaged even if he does petition for divorce sooner rather than later.

The matter of why he is treating you like this is sadly not something anyone can really do anything about - least of all a solicitor.

Collaborate Mon 26-Nov-12 13:49:04

That's no defence.

Chubfuddler Mon 26-Nov-12 13:18:44

Would the court grant a divorce if she opposed it on basis that she is pregnant?

Collaborate Mon 26-Nov-12 13:15:00

You should be aware that it is easy for anyone to get a divorce these days based on unreasonable behaviour. You don't need strong allegations of behaviour. It may well be that your H will issue his own divorce petition. Don't construe it as a threat. That's what he's telling them he will do so it's only fair that they pass it on to you. It's what dialogue is about - although unfortunately they don't seem to be entering into dialogue with you over the issues you want to confront.

Chubfuddler Mon 26-Nov-12 12:34:40

Don't divorce him until the baby is born. If your baby is born while you are still married you can register him as the father. CSA is then a piece of cake. If you're already divorced you will need him to register the birth with you. He may refuse. He may even be cunt enough to demand a DNA test. All this will take time and money and delay your CSA application.

If his agenda is for a quick divorce, why on earth would you play along? Don't be rushed. You need full financial disclosure from him. Just because he wants to spend money on writing solicitors letters it doesn't mean your sol has to answer them. Instruct her not to respond to chasing letters or phone calls. The only thing she is to respond to is a fully documented form E.

Hi OP,

Firstly I want to say how sorry I am that you are going through this.

I don't usually post on these type of threads, but as it is to do with a solicitor's style, perhaps I have something to say which is of relevance.

I am an in house solicitor, and always favour the polite, no nonsense approach. I have an eye on costs and don't like longwinded waffle.

I recently went through a dispute with my former employer. Basically my boss was a totally unreasonable bastard, and I walked out. I wanted a modest settlement (I asked for an amount that equated to less than 3 months pay (albeit without tax)). He sent the claim to incredibly expensive London solicitors who sent me letter after letter. I got 4 on one day!!! They were extremely threatening in tone. I knew that I had a strong case, and tried to ignore the more ridiculous aspects of what they were saying.

When I spoke to them on the phone in without prejudice conversations, they were totally normal human beings. One said to me, "You make a very strong case....your the amount you are claiming sounds reasonable". Eventually they settled for about 15% less than I was asking. I was very pleased with the result.

Try and ignore the style and focus on what you want out of this desperate situation. Try and get into the driving seat. And get your solicitor on side. Her style sounds reasonable, but you may need to lay down the law on costs. I was fortunate that I handled my case myself....but I did speak to other lawyers who would have handled things very differently. I suspect I would have won more money, but that it would have been more than cancelled out by the costs I would have incurred. I also needed a quick settlement - which is different from what you need.

Good luck.

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