Divorce is always painful, especially if it comes after bitter courtroom battles. But you can avoid a lot of pain by hiring the right divorce solicitor. This may not be easy. There are many legal offices and many solicitors. Finding the right one, therefore, requires time and effort. Here is a step-by-step guide.
Make a shortlist
First, shortlist solicitors who specialise in divorce and family law. Ask friends and relatives for their recommendations. Next, get in touch with professional associations such as the Resolution (formerly Solicitor’s Family Law Association) and the Children Panel (if you have children) and ask for a list of their members. You can also pick from the solicitors listed in the Community Legal Service of the Citizens Advice Bureau database. Finally, and as a last resort, you may also scan the Yellow Pages.
Discuss, check, identify the best
Now zero in on one solicitor who you think would be just right for you. Visit or call the solicitors on your shortlist, take appointments with each and discuss with each the details of your case. Ask questions and try to assess who appears to be the most knowledgeable, competent and trustworthy. Usually, your initial discussions with the solicitors will be free of charge. So, make good use of them.
Look at track record
If you think in your case the divorce part would be easy but disputes may arise regarding child custody, go for a solicitor who has won difficult child custody cases in the past. Similarly, if you think proving adultery or infidelity would be critical in your case, pick a solicitor who has a successful track record in similar cases.
Know about all services
Through your interviews try to find out the entire range of services provided by each solicitor. Often a divorce case may affect businesses and trusts. In that case pick a solicitor who can provide mediation and related services. If there is something unique about your divorce, look for a solicitor with a family law specialization.
To verify this, check for affiliations – whether the solicitor is a member of the SLFA Specialist Accreditation Scheme or of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel, an organisation whose members have a verified deep knowledge of family law.
Check out fees and costs
Always make it a point to fully understand the fee structure of the person or firm you are hiring. Larger firms have prepared brochures listing their services, payment terms and appropriate charges. Read these thoroughly and ask questions to clarify all doubts. Be frank about your budget and your needs. Don’t lose simply because you ended up being in a situation where you were unable to bear the costs of litigation any more.
Go with your gut feeling
While there are no fixed rules to determine who would be the best solicitor for you, often a surprisingly good indicator is to go by gut feeling. If you can trust somebody and are confident of his/her abilities, go ahead and hire him or her. But if in meeting the individual you find yourself questioning their abilities, move on. Family law is a bar primarily focused on negotiation and personal relations, so if you do not like the individual, chances are they will not perform up to par.
Selecting an excellent solicitor will mean not only that will you not have to worry about falling into a legal trap, but further, it will give you confidence and knowledge as to how your case will play out.
Word count: 583
Incoming search terms:
- divorce plr