The first full working week of January is a dark time when it comes to romance - in fact the start of the week is unaffectionately known as ‘Divorce Day’!
Yes, it is the time when lawyers expect to receive a flood of enquiries from couples planning to separate. It is estimated that more than 40,500 people will search divorce online in January – 25 per cent higher than at any other time of the year.
But what can you expect from a solicitor and what should you be looking for? Wilkin Chapman Partner and Head of the Family Department, Lisa Boileau offers the following advice:
The first and most important thing is to find a solicitor who understands your needs, who you are comfortable talking to, who is experienced and a specialist in what they do;
Ask how long the process will take and ask your solicitor how and when they will update you;
Ask them to explain what your options are, the likely costs of the different options, and together they should support you to choose the best option for you in your particular circumstances;
Ask them whether they think you will need to go to court, or whether it is possible/ likely that your case can be resolved without having to;
Be clear on what they will do for you;
Establish what the likely costs will be, and the options for how that can be funded, including whether or not you may be able to seek for the other party to pay a contribution towards the costs;
Always remember, going for the least expensive option may cost you more in the long-run. You wouldn’t try to fix your own gas boiler unless you were a qualified Corgi registered plumber/heating engineer. It’s dangerous to dabble! Trying to do it yourself can end you up in all kinds of difficulty. So be sensible. Get some initial advice from a solicitor. Understand what it is you are dealing with, what all of the options are, and then make your decisions from there;
A family law solicitor will support you through the divorce process and will give you advice that you can trust about the things that matter most - your children, your home and your long-term financial security. They will listen and discuss options, letting you know where you stand and what your rights are, as well as those of your ex-partner;
You will also be helped and reminded of other relevant legal matters – for example the buying and selling of property, new Wills and revised pension arrangements;
You will be making life changing decisions. Be careful, be properly informed and get some expert advice at the outset from someone who knows what they are talking about.