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Barrister at divorce first financial court hearing - is this usual?

(33 Posts)
whatwillhappen2 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:03:51

First divorce financial court hearing coming up in December. I asked my solicitor if she would be coming with me. She said no, they would be instructing a very good barrister who is really worth the money.


Why would a barrister be needed at this stage?

Does this not make the whole thing even more adversarial than it already is?

My furious H has so far only recently got an online solicitor. I don't know who he will be bringing with him if anybody. There is going to be an imbalance and my H, who already feels victimised, is going to feel even more victimised. My solicitor said that courts are kind to people who are not represented. I had read the opposite. Of course I don't know for sure that he will be unrepresented.

My barrister (faints some more), whom I haven't met, is good at negotiating with the other side. If this is just my irrational and furious H, who seems to have a sketchy grasp of the process and a chip on his shoulder (partly due to his first divorce), how is this even going to happen?

Plus my solicitor is great and I wanted her to be there.

Scrowy Thu 12-Oct-17 20:08:17

This might be useful reading for you!

whatwillhappen2 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:10:58

I know what the difference is! Don't some solicitors do advocacy at these kinds of hearings though?

Maybe mine doesn't - 'tis true.

Scrowy Thu 12-Oct-17 20:14:01

Well I assumed that you probably knew the difference but the article also gives a good overviewof why a barrister might be used which is what you were asking grin

Bluntness100 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:15:56

I don’t understand the question on here, why did you not simply ask her if she was a solicitor advocate and if she was able to represent you and if so why she had instructed a barrister? If she is not and I suspect not, the answer is clear.

Without giving the details of your solicitor I can’t see how anyone can answer your question. Why do you keep fainting? They are all lawyers, just two different kinds, once is not more faint worthy than the other.

whatwillhappen2 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:17:25

Anyway thanks - that was interesting reading.

Still my other questions stand - is the first hearing adversarial? What is it like basically? My H is furious and just wants me to tell him what I want. I don't know what there is yet though as we have not yet filled in Form E. It's a big mess. He reckons he will be fleeced by the divorce as that was his experience last time. I think this will not happen and it will be pretty fair. Of course H is furious that he is having to lose anything at all.

Racmactac Thu 12-Oct-17 20:20:02

Perfectly normal to instruct barrister at final hearing.
Barristers are trained to be advocates. Don’t worry about the ex and what he does. That’s his problem.
Trust the experience of solicitor and barrister to know what they are doing.

whatwillhappen2 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:20:54

Yes sorry for the fainting grin.

For some reason barrister seems very adversarial whereas solicitor less so. Probably based on TV shows.

Yes I should have asked her. I will ask her in my next email. I suspect she isn't as well. In any case I am glad she is charge of my case.

Racmactac Thu 12-Oct-17 20:21:48

Oh sorry just seen it’s first appointment. Depends how complicated it is.
If he hasn’t filed form e then he will find himself in trouble with judge. You can’t settle anything unless you know his financial information

whatwillhappen2 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:22:05

It's not the final hearing though, it's the first one (though it might get changed into the second one if possible).

Racmactac Thu 12-Oct-17 20:22:31

No not adversarial, quite common. Don’t stress or faint!

EggysMom Thu 12-Oct-17 20:22:43

My XH brought a barrister to our first (and what turned out to be only) financial hearing. I represented myself, with a Mckenzie friend (supporter) from a local voluntary group.

It was useful to have the barrister as the judge wasn't particularly patient. He asked for a summary of the situation and negotiations to date and looked at me, I started to talk, it obviously wasn't the detail he was looking for so he just turned to the barrister and asked them to summarise instead - not a nice experience.

It was also useful to have the barrister as we appeared to reach a sensible arrangement, so the judge sent us out for the barrister to hand-write a consent order that both sides signed and he ratified the order the same afternoon. Without a barrister present, we'd have had to go back to solicitors, get the order written, and returned to court for the presentation.

But ultimately it didn't benefit my XH to have the barrister - I came out of the consent order with about £10k more than I anticipated as the judge found more in my favour than XH grin

whatwillhappen2 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:23:10

He is working on it now. Me too. We have until November. His is a huge amount of work and he is furious.

whatwillhappen2 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:25:32

No not adversarial, quite common. Don’t stress or faint!


summerbreezer Thu 12-Oct-17 20:26:27

Barrister here, although not a family practitioner.

Often instructing counsel on a fixed fee is cheaper than solicitors who are on the clock. It is perfectly normal to have barristers involved in administrative hearings.

Also, I do wonder if people sometimes have an image in their mind of what a barrister is (middle aged, male, imposing). I have been a barrister since I was 23 and I certainly did not look particularly "barrister like" at the time (not sure I do even now to be honest).

whatwillhappen2 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:26:56

Don’t worry about the ex and what he does. That’s his problem.

I know that this is what I should do but I am finding it hard as we are living in the same house and things are very tense.

whatwillhappen2 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:28:20

Yes summerbreezer - wigs come to mind.

Yes the fixed fee would definitely be better than an hourly one!

whatwillhappen2 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:29:28

I am glad it went well Eggsymom.

Squigglypig Thu 12-Oct-17 20:31:13

I'm a solicitor (not in family law) and it'a perfectly normal to send a barrister to hearings. It will be more cost effective and your barrister has been specifically trained to represent you at these hearings and (possibly) in negotiations at the court door too.

Bluntness100 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:31:32

I think you’re being thrown by the tv perception. Plenty of barristers on thirty grand a year makin their living out of small cases like yours, I doubt you’re going to have one who earns seven figures a year front up to represent you, unless that’s the level of solicitor you engaged and this is a massive divorce settlement. Your barrister will be at the same level as your solicitor.

As for will it be adversarial that will depend solely on you and your husband. The barrister will act on instruction and advocate on your behalf. Lawyers are taught to argue. But in a way where the other party listens to their argument and agrees, not the way you argue with a spouse. They form an argument to convince, not to put folks backs up.

When it gets acrimonious, it’s only between you and your husband, the lawyers simply do their job.

summerbreezer Thu 12-Oct-17 20:33:53

As far as I know they do not robe in family court, OP. Which is a shame for them, as I love my wig and gown! I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Ask your sols for the name of the barrister before the hearing and google their chambers profile - that will give you a good idea what to expect and what their experience level is. You can also find out their "call" which is the year they were "called to the Bar" (admitted to practice). That is not always commensurate with experience, as barristers can begin practice up to five years after call. But it is a good indicator.

Remember, the barrister is there to protect you and fight for you. We are usually quite bolshy types. Good luck.

whatwillhappen2 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:37:53

Thanks squigglypig and bluntness.

As for will it be adversarial that will depend solely on you and your husband. The barrister will act on instruction and advocate on your behalf. Lawyers are taught to argue. But in a way where the other party listens to their argument and agrees, not the way you argue with a spouse. They form an argument to convince, not to put folks backs up.

Thanks - very helpful. I don't want to be acrimonious but H is very cross and thinks he will be done over. Also he doesn't want any of this and just wants me to tell him what he wants. He maintains that I know everything that there is (so no need for Form E) and just to tell him what I want - this was shouted at me repeatedly.

whatwillhappen2 Thu 12-Oct-17 20:41:05

Thanks summerbreezer. The fight for you aspect is what scares me a bit tbh - without wishing to seem ungrateful. Yes I might need that and hope to get it if H brings his own barrister with him, but if he is on his own, I don't want him to be made mincemeat of iyswim.

summerbreezer Thu 12-Oct-17 20:59:22

The judge will not allow your lawyer to bully your husband. Indeed, our Code of Conduct does not allow us to bully people.

I suspect it will actually be very conciliatory - the idea is to get agreement if at all possible. Fighting for someone does not always mean pummelling the other side into the ground. Remember there is more than one way to skin a cat, particularly in negotiation.

I suspect, on what you have said, that your H is scared and in denial, and that is manifesting itself in aggression and defensiveness.

If that is right, then it may be that the first hearing is exactly what he needs to understand that this is real and is happening. He may then instruct lawyers.

Remember this is phenomenally hard for you because of the emotional ties you still have to him. A lawyer's job is to focus not on your emotional comfort now but your financial comfort in 20 years. As horrible as it is, you need to look out for yourself and your own interests.

Hopefully that first hearing will help to alleviate your fears about family court.

KarmaNoMore Thu 12-Oct-17 21:01:12

I used a barrister just for the final hearing. Frankly it cost me over several £1,000s for a day at court. He didn't do a better job than my solicitor had done until that point.

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