How To Choose a Divorce Lawyer
Divorce is one of the most stressful experiences that any of us will encounter in our lifetime. For some, a marital breakdown is a precursor to financial concerns and uncertainty over housing and for many, the impact on their children will be a significant factor for consideration.
Deciding to divorce
If a relationship breakup is handled sensitively and amicably, it is considerably easier to achieve a positive outcome that allows both parties to exit the relationship in a financially and emotionally stable manner. It is recommended that open and honest discussions about the reason for the relationship breakdown and the ideal outcome are held informally prior to seeking legal counsel.
Where a couple finds it difficult to have these discussions, either due to high emotions or the infidelity of one party, mediation will likely be necessary to allow the couple to find common ground and to pursue the divorce in a calm and considered manner. It is often possible to apply for legal aid to support mediation.
Choosing a lawyer
You should seek out a divorce lawyer who is compassionate and understanding but who will fight for their client's rights. This is especially important when a breakup is acrimonious and disagreements over the outcome are likely. You will get a feel for a lawyer's disposition when you make initial contact to discuss your case. They should be interested in you and your situation and provide you with confidence in their ability to secure a satisfactory outcome for you and your family.
Solicitors who are accredited members of Resolution, or the Law Society's Family Law, Family Law Advanced or Children Law accreditation schemes are preferable for divorce cases as they are proven to meet the necessarily high standards that are set for family related legal service provision.
Cost of a divorce lawyer
You may need to consider cost as a deciding factor in selecting a lawyer. Unless the relationship is dissolving due to domestic violence, legal aid will not be available and although most solicitors charge a flat fee for this service, you may wish to compare quotes prior to engaging a solicitor to ensure that you will receive the desired service at a reasonable price.
You may wish to re-write your will at the same time as finalising a divorce. Should this be the case, you will need to make this clear at the outset so that this additional service can be included in the price.
Child custody and maintenance
This can be a contentious area, so you should work with your chosen solicitor to reach a mutually satisfactory outcome that takes into account the needs and welfare of the children involved. Decisions will need to be made for the children's living arrangements, custody sharing, and child maintenance payments.
The person allocated as primary carer for the children may wish to remain in the family home and your chosen solicitor will help to determine a satisfactory outcome that will be in the best interests of the children.