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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?


olgaga Sat 24-Nov-12 14:01:47

Spring yes, I have to say, my experience of "Resolution" and "Collaborative" lawyers is that they're not all they're cracked up to be. Say one thing and do another just about sums it up.

I suppose at the end of the day, who pays the piper calls the tune - whether the lawyer in question is a member of a fancy-sounding professional organisation or not.

Word of mouth is absolutely the best way to find a good local family lawyer.

LouP19 Sat 24-Nov-12 16:38:20

Thanks for your advice.

His solicitor is continuing to send the most ridiculous letters. I've now had one that claims to declare his finances. Included are 3 bank statements from April, May, and June. My H left on 1st August. I'm staggered that his solicitor thinks this is acceptable (she is the Head of Family Law at a local firm FFS).

We know who he is living with and where. I traced him through a PI recommended via my solicitor. I have no intention of using this information, although I know many would've done in my circumstances (she is also pregnant and has no idea I am!). However, he still has not admitted he is cohabiting with her even though we have proof he is. Surely he needs to do this, and declare jointly with her?

There is still no mention of my pregnancy, despite repeated references from my solicitor. We have asked him twice what his intentions are re: his involvement with the child.

The cherry on the cake is there is also some ridiculous statement about how H plans to collect the TV and the computer from the home in the New Year. Cue big statement about how he bought the television last year and he really needs it,.... blah blah.

How can his solicitor let him get away with sending an inaccurate financial declaration, still not acknowledge the blindingly obvious (i.e. I'm pregnant and his commitment therein) and then go off on one about a 42" Panasonic?!! I cannot believe that a senior solicitor is not pulling him up smart on any of this. sad I feel his solicitor is letting him get away with covering his tracks,...... it's outrageous.

Obviously, I'm going to discuss all this with my solicitor next week. However, I would appreciate some advice from you lovely legal eagles please. Is it a case of 'if a client pays, we'll represent'?

olgaga Sat 24-Nov-12 19:56:44

Is it a case of 'if a client pays, we'll represent'?

Lou, as you know I am not a lawyer. But yes that's the case. Just ignore the stuff about the goods - it's irrelevant. You need to remember, solicitors aren't counsellors, or social workers. They like nothing better than clients who pursue "principles" because that's where the money is.

What's relevant here is that he can't have a divorce without a financial settlement when children are involved. The longer this goes on, and your child has arrived, the better your bargaining position will be.

Your solicitor needs to be saying, to his solicitor, straight and to the point, what are their client's proposals for the division of assets - ie house, pension, savings, and what are the proposals relating to spousal maintenance. This has to be negotiated. Usually a larger share of the assets is achieved on the basis that you will not claim spousal maintenance. Child maintenance is not part of the equation - it's separate, and the calculation, based on his salary, will be governed by regulation.

Until you get answers to those key questions, ignore everything else. The computer and 42" Panasonic are worth less than £500 so won't even figure in the Form E declarations of assets. Ignore it. Instruct your solicitor to do so, and to pursue the relevant issues I have mentioned above. By the sound of it you will need to pursue a Financial Order.

It's not his solicitor's job to "pull him up" on anything. He instructs his solicitor. That's what he's paying for. That's how it works.

You instruct your solicitor to do what you want, which is at this stage to put forward your proposals for a financial settlement and arrangements for your child which you can both agree. That will not include the kind of possessions he's claiming.

His solicitor knows that, but they have to do what their client instructs. Yes it's complete bullshit, but that's how it is.

Did you ever read through the long post I provided on previous threads? Here's the updated version. I know it's hard, but you do need to get a grip on this so that you don't worry about things you have no need to worry about - such as you TV and computer. Frankly that's the least of your worries - or indeed his.

Relationship Breakdown and Divorce – Advice and Links (V4 Nov 2012)

It is useful if you can get to grips with the language of family law and procedure, and get an understanding of your rights, BEFORE you see a solicitor. If you are well prepared you will save time and money.


The welfare, needs and interests of children are paramount. Parents have responsibilities, not rights, in this regard. Shared residence means both parties having an equal interest in the upbringing of the children. It does not mean equal (50/50) parenting time - children are not possessions to be “fairly” divided between separating parents.

A divorce will not be granted where children are involved unless there are agreed arrangements for finance, and care of the children (“Statement of Arrangements for Children”). It is obviously quicker and cheaper if this can be agreed but if there is no agreement, the Court will make an Order - “Residence and Contact” regarding children, “Financial Order” or “Ancillary Relief” in the case of Finance. Information and links to these can be found in the Directgov link below. Residence and Contact Orders are likely to be renamed Child Arrangements Orders in future.

Always see a specialist family lawyer!

Get word of mouth recommendations for family lawyers in your area if possible. If you have children at school, ask mums you are friendly with if they know of anyone who can make a recommendation in your area. These days there are few people who don’t know of anyone who has been through a divorce or separation – there’s a lot of knowledge and support out there!

Many family lawyers will offer the first half hour consultation free. Make use of this. Don’t just stick with the first lawyer you find – shop around and find someone you feel comfortable with. You may be in for a long haul, so it helps if you can find a solicitor you’re happy with.

If you can’t find any local recommendations, always see a solicitor who specialises in Family Law.
If you take legal action to protect yourself or your family from domestic violence, you may qualify for legal aid without having to meet the normal financial conditions. The income of an abusive partner will not be taken into account when deciding whether you qualify for legal aid.
You can also find out about Legal Aid and get advice on the Community Legal Advice Helpline on 08345 345 4 345
Or search in your area for Community Legal Advisors:
Here is the guide to divorce which includes a link to CAB advice at the foot of the first page:

Rights of Women have a helpline on 020 7251 6577 and helpful advice on their website.

Co-operative Legal Services offer DIY/Self-Help Divorce packages, as well as a Managed Divorce service. Their fee structure is more transparent and they have a telephone advice line as well as offering really good advice on their website:

You can read advice and search by area for a family lawyer here:

and here:

Some family law solicitors publish online feedback from clients – Google solicitors to see if you can find any recommendations or feedback.


You will be encouraged to attend mediation. This can help by encouraging discussion about arrangements for children and finance in a structured way in a neutral setting. However, it only works if both parties are willing to reach agreement.

If there has been violence or emotional abuse, discuss this with your solicitor first. Always get legal advice, or at the very least make sure you are aware of your legal rights, before you begin mediation. This is important because while a Mediator should have knowledge of family law, and will often explain family law, they are not there to give tailored legal advice to either party - so it’s important to have that first.

You can find a Mediator here:

Married or Living Together?

This is a key question, because if you are married, generally speaking you have greater protection when a relationship breaks down.

Legal Issues around marriage/cohabitation and relationship breakdown are explained here: advice on divorce, separation and relationship breakdown:

Issues around contact are further explored here:

I found these guides from law firms quite informative and easy to read – there are others of course:


Before you see a family law solicitor, get hold of every single piece of financial information you have access to, and take copies or make notes. Wage slips, P60s, tax returns, employment contracts, pensions and other statements – savings, current account and mortgages, deeds, rental leases, utility bills, council tax bills, credit statements. Are there joint assets such as a home, pensions, savings, shares?
There is a useful divorce and separation calculator here:

If you cannot access financial information, or you are aware that assets are being hidden from you, then obviously you will not be able to reach agreement on finances. Again you will be encouraged to go to mediation (link as above).

If there are children, as you cannot divorce without adequate arrangements being agreed on finance and children, you will have to apply for a financial order anyway.
If there are no children, and you are unable to agree on finances, you will also have to apply for a financial order.
During this process, parties have to declare financial information going back 12 months. So it is in your interests to act quickly once you have made the decision to divorce.

If you are married, the main considerations of the Family Courts where parties are unable to agree a settlement are (in no particular order of priority):

1.The welfare of any minor children from the marriage.
2.The value of jointly and individually owned property and other assets and the financial needs, obligation and responsibilities of each party.
3.Any debts or liabilities of the parties.
4.Pension arrangements for each of the parties, including future pension values and any value to each of the parties of any benefit they may lose as a result of the divorce.
5.The earnings and earning potential of each of the parties.
6.Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
7.The age of the parties and duration of the marriage.
8.Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties.
9.Contributions that each party may have made to the marriage, either financially or by looking after the house and/or caring for the family.

CSA maintenance calculator:

Handy tax credits calculator:

Handy 5 Minute benefit check, tax and housing benefit calculators:

CAB Benefits Check:

Parenting issues:

Other Support – Children, Housing, Domestic Violence and - Helpline 0808 2000 247 - Helpline 0844 8044 999 - Helpline 0808 802 0925
(Note that on many advice websites there is usually an appropriate link for England, Wales and Scotland where the law, advice and contact information may differ).
Sometimes links change or break – if there is a problem or any of the above needs updating, please let me know.

LouP19 Sun 25-Nov-12 11:14:58

Thanks Olgaga. Thoroughly depressing that his solicitor is only really doing her job,....... really, it is.

On the one hand I'm being threatened by a 'If you don't file for divorce by,.... then my client will'. At the same time as being supplied with completely inaccurate financial details (his pension information is also incorrect), not acknowledging my pregnancy, and not acknowledging his living circumstances. So he's making threats, when in actual fact it is him who, by being completely dishonest, is slowing the process down.

It's abundently transparent.

olgaga Mon 26-Nov-12 10:45:10

Well that's an empty threat if ever I heard one! Pointless and stupid. Your solicitor simply needs to say you will file for divorce as soon as transparency is achieved with regard to finances, and adequate housing and financial provision can be agreed in order to achieve a clean break settlement.

If he wants a quick divorce he needs to pull his finger out and start making reasonable offers. Ignore anything else.

When is your baby due?

olgaga Mon 26-Nov-12 11:09:09

I would add, you have read the "Runaway Husbands" stuff. Unfortunately there are men who would rather pay thousands of pounds to a legal representative rather than give it over to their ex and children. Sad but true.

You are not dealing with the man you loved, the one you were married to and tried for so long to conceive with. You are now dealing with a stranger.

Depressing, yes. My friend is still having to battle through to a final (third) hearing of a financial dispute with an ex who walked out on her and her three children 18 months ago to set up home with a friend of theirs. He has spent about a third of their savings already in the process. Nothing will convince him he is being completely irrational and deeply unfair.

The only thing which can explain this hatred (that's the only word for it) is the refusal to simply roll over and accept being erased from his life.

You refused to have the termination which he wanted. My friend, while she is over the shock and relieved now to have been replaced as a wife, refuses to allow her ex to simply take their children and replace her as their child's mother, and has insisted that she should remain their main carer, as she always was.

So you and my friend have something in common - you have both refused to simply accede to your exH's plans for his new life. Cue displays of selfishness, disrespect and vitriol you never imagined they were capable of.

I only hope your case can be resolved more quickly and civilly than hers.

fedupwithdeployment Mon 26-Nov-12 11:31:42

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.

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.

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 13:18:44

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

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

That's no defence.

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 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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,............

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.

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

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 ?

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.

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.

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 09:56:07

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.

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