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Any tips when instructing a divorce solicitor

(12 Posts)
Lotstothinkabout Mon 29-Jul-13 16:49:04

Hi there,

I've been married 2 years and have a one year old baby, unfortunately my marriage has ended and I'm speaking with solicitors to understand the next steps. I am looking to take my baby back to my home country. I dont have any equity in the house, it's in my husband's name and his mum also contributed some money into the house. Can you tell me if there was any tips, advice you could give me in regards to things to clarify prior to instructing. I'm mindful that I need to get one instructed asap, but also want to make sure I've done my homework, as they certainly don't come cheap! Thank you.

babybarrister Mon 29-Jul-13 17:10:26

Make sure they are members of Resolution - the family lawyers association - they have a database online. If you say. More or less where you are,people will be able to give recommendations.

In relation to wanting to move back to your home country, if this is not agreed, the application will take about a year to go throug the courts - you therefore will need. To get on with the application ....

Revengeofkarma Fri 16-Aug-13 22:16:35

You'll be billed in six minute increments so remember you're not there for therapy, you're there for legal advice. Ask a question, get an answer. Write your questions down before meeting/phone call, and take notes.

It is a personal situation, but you can save yourself a lot of sanity by not taking it personally.

Only one piece of advice here: my friend got a 'divorce package' where she paid up front (I think it was about £2000) for the whole deal, start-to-end. There were no hidden charges and she could ring for advice whenever she wanted. It sounds like a lot, but her ex-husband got a cheaper solicitor and paid for stuff as-and-when, and he ended up paying a whole lot more than my friend. She wanted everything in writing, so made him go through his solicitor for everything - and it cost him £20 for every letter his solicitor wrote.

lostdad Sun 18-Aug-13 16:24:33

The best way is to use one by personal recommendation.

Don't be impressed by nice-looking logos on websites or letters: Since it's formation Resolution has never penalised a single member for failing to abide by the conditions of membership while the SRA is notorious for being a closed-club which doesn't help clients.

Remember that solicitors and barristers work for you in the same way a plumber or a builder does and not the other way round. You can typically expect to pay around £170 (or more) an hour for a solicitor or £1500 a day for a barrister. In a month without hearing expect to pay at least around £400 and double that (or more) for one with a hearing in it.

If money is a problem I would recommend you consider representing yourself with the assistance of a McKenzie Friend. They are legal assistants who don't have automatic rights of audience and aren't able to act as your agent or litigate on your behalf but can do almost anything else - with the added advantage that they are usually vastly cheaper and on call in an emergency when a quick decision is made.

Revengeofkarma Sun 18-Aug-13 20:18:57

Actually, I don't think personal recommendation is necessarily the way to go. Most people thankfully only divorce once - they only have that one experience to go on and nothing to compare it to to actually determine if the person is any good or not. Ask a lawyer for a recommendation if you can - they know the profession more and who to avoid. I'd also be wary of a McKenzie Friend - if it goes to trial you need a lawyer anyway for the audience, and just sheer levels of training and experience.

Fees aren't the only indicator of quality by any stretch of the imagination, but simultaneously the amount of money you'll spend depends on how much of a jerk either side wants to be. If one side wants to negotiate and the other wants to fight/stall/win at all costs then it gets expensive. If you can negotiate and agree everything in advance it can be cheap (and quick - look at Nigella and Saatchi).

If you don't have a lawyer friend in your area to ask for a recommendation, there are websites which compare/rank solicitors. CAB might recommend (or not - might be constrained against endorsement.)

But once the orders are in, it can be relatively done. Considering you're talking about maintenance, child support, division of all your assets and possible restraining orders if you're in that kind of situation, sorting it out right should be a good investment especially if there are children involved.

babybarrister Mon 19-Aug-13 14:56:37

McKenzie Friends are certainly not 'legal assistants' - they are untrained

Collaborate Mon 19-Aug-13 15:30:30

...in the same way that I could become a surgical assistant if allowed to pass the surgeon their scalpel. The only difference is that MFs frequently do advise, and you might as well toss a coin as to whether you're getting good advice, because as BB points out being a MF does not mean you have any qualifications.

Law Society guidance about MFs says

"During court proceedings, LiPs have the right to seek reasonable assistance from a layperson, sometimes called a McKenzie Friend. A McKenzie Friend may sit alongside a LiP and provide general support. You should note the following in relation to McKenzie Friends:
A McKenzie Friend is permitted to further the interests of justice by achieving a level playing field and ensuring a fair hearing. Requests for such assistance will only be refused for compelling reasons, and in the event, the judge must explain those reasons fully to the LiP and the prospective McKenzie Friend;
A LiP cannot allow a McKenzie Friend to speak directly on their behalf unless invited to do so by the court, either within the confines of the court or in pre-trial meetings;
A LiP is entitled to disclose confidential information and court papers to the McKenzie Friend in order to give them a better understanding of the matter in hand;
A McKenzie Friend may assist with such tasks as taking notes, helping to organise documents, and making suggestions;
McKenzie Friends are not permitted to act as a LiP's agent in relation to court proceedings or manage a LiP's case outside of court. If you receive correspondence from a McKenzie Friend on a LiP's behalf, you should respond to the LiP directly and not to their McKenzie Friend;
A LiP will need to advise the court if a McKenzie Friend will be attending hearings, meetings etc., but a McKenzie Friend has no right of address to the court; and
It is not good practice for the court to exclude the proposed McKenzie Friend from the courtroom or chambers whilst the application for assistance is being made by the unrepresented party, as a LiP who requires a McKenzie Friend is likely to need their assistance to make the application for their appointment in the first instance."

Court guidance is found here:

www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Guidance/pfd_guidance_mckenzie_friends_oct_2008.pdf

converselover Wed 21-Aug-13 08:32:15

Does your exp agree that child will be living in your home country? Taking a child abroad and thus effectively ending a paternal relationship will be tough if not. An alternative (cheaper too) is a trained mediator to agree out of court arrangements with exp. You might like to consider that too.

Lotstothinkabout Fri 23-Aug-13 09:03:24

Thank you all for your responses - I haven't logged on for a while, hence the delay. I will certainly get a lawyer, I don't intend to represent myself or get a McKenzie Friend. My ExH is all over the place, one day he says he will fight my to the high court to ensure that his baby stays in England, the other he will tell me just to go, get out of his life, he never wants to see us again, ever. He suffers from depression and bi-polar (diagnosed when I was pregnant), so no doubt the nature of his condition. So, even if he did agree to let us go without going through the courts, it would always be hanging over us, that he could just change his mind. I think I would prefer a court order, just for the certainly. Thanks, again.

babybarrister Fri 23-Aug-13 09:28:06

Please get in with commencing proceedings as they will take about a year ...

MOSagain Sat 24-Aug-13 13:50:09

Agree with babybarrister. Get on with your application ASAP so you can move on with your life

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