Divorce can be a confusing time; clients do not always know what to expect,so our initial chat is often a time for us to get to grips with the help you need and explain how we can assist before you commit to instructing us.
It is also an opportunity for us to explain the likely costs you can expect to incur. Following on from that and if you decide to instruct us we will arrange a full initial appointment so we can advise you in detail in respect of the issues and discuss the way forward. We ideally hold such appointments face to face if convenient to the client, but we can also do any communication of your choice, such as Teams or Zoom.
We always explain to our clients that divorce is the procedural process that brings an end to the marriage. Quite often, the issues arising from the divorce regarding the finances and the children are the main focus.
What to expect from a divorce solicitor
In an initial consultation, we discuss your situation, concerns, and objectives, assess your case and provide you with an overview of the divorce process, the financial process, potential outcomes, and legal options.
Our team explain the relevant divorce and finance laws and regulations and advise on matters such as property and asset division, pension sharing and issues relating to the arrangements for the children.
Often, a client has been recommended to us by a friend or relative or found us online and read our divorce FAQs so they have some basic information. Others have not researched the divorce process and we always take all clients through the process step by step in our initial appointment. Emotions are often running high and we pride ourselves on our caring and sensitive approach.
A good divorce solicitor is also called upon to provide emotional support and empathy during this difficult time, something our team is very experienced in, with clients often commenting upon our empathy and understanding.
We will represent clients’ interests both outside of the court arena in voluntary negotiations and within court proceedings if they become necessary. We will also advise clients in relation to alternative out of court dispute resolution, such as mediation.
Understanding the divorce process
Family and Divorce solicitor Lucinda McWatt explains the divorce process:
- A couple must have been married at least one year before divorce proceedings can be started. Divorce is the key to the door in resolving the finances.
- When we are instructed, we issue an engagement letter outlining our terms of business and provide a full and detailed cost estimate.
- We will explain to a client the process of divorce and ask a client to provide their original marriage certificate to enable us to issue the divorce application on their before.
- We will take full instructions regarding a client’s financial circumstances in the initial meeting, we will then advise the client regarding the process of full and frank disclosure of assets, income and liabilities with the other party. This process assists us in establishing the assets in dispute and enables us to provide full advice to a client.
- We will advise clients regarding the options for resolving the financial matters, including alternative dispute resolution such as mediation and arbitration and ultimately, if the matter cannot be resolved, we will provide detailed advice regarding the court process.
- We will draft an initial letter to the other side and often send it to a client for approval in the first instance. We always recommend the other party seek independent legal advice.
- The divorce process itself can take in excess of 7 months. However, the issues surrounding the finances and children can take longer to resolve. The aim is to achieve a Court order in respect of the finances outlining the agreement reached and providing for a clean break as the right to claim financial provision against one another does not end on divorce and will remain open.
- The application, once issued must be served upon the respondent within 28 days of issue.
- You must wait a minimum of a 20-week ‘cooling off period’ between the date of issue and the first opportunity to apply for the Conditional Order.
- The court cannot make a Final Order in respect of the finances until the Conditional Order is pronounced.
- You must then wait 6 weeks and a day before applying for the Final Order.
- You will remain married until your Final Order is granted and, this process can take several months. We often advise against applying for the Final Order until the finances are resolved.
- You can withdraw from the divorce up to any stage up to the final order.
Our legal fees for dealing with a straightforward sole application start from £600 plus VAT. The court fee is £593 but you may be entitled to a fee remission from this court fee depending on your financial circumstances.
Divorce and child arrangements
Ideally, you have agreed on childcare arrangements as the starting point is that both parents should be involved in the care of their child; there is a presumption of contact unless there are welfare concerns.
However, if, as parents, you cannot agree, an application will have to be made to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order. This is a separate application as the arrangements for the children are not resolved by the Court dealing with the divorce and financial matters.
We can give you separate advice regarding the children and represent you in child arrangements proceedings if the issues cannot be resolved by consent.
“As with any legal process, it is always better to chat things through with a professional, there is nothing that surprises our team, and with years of experience between us, we know that we can help,” said Lucinda McWatt
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Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.