Divorce is arguably one of the most challenging and complex undertakings that one can face within a family context, both from an emotional and practical standpoint. Further, navigating the legal intricacies that come hand in hand with finalising the details of a separation, such as child custody and financial arrangements, requires a keen understanding of the appropriate jurisdiction and legislation involved.

Because of this, it is always advisable to consult a solicitor before filing for divorce so that they can help to direct your strategy by providing continued assistance to you throughout the often-lengthy procedure. Selecting the right solicitor for you and your case is therefore of the utmost importance as you will likely be working very closely with them for quite some time and their skills and level of competence will directly impact the outcome of your case.

Below is a list of some questions that we recommend you always ask your prospective solicitor to help you make an informed choice.

What areas of law do you specialise in?

The discipline of law is incredibly varied and so making sure that your solicitor has trained specifically to be a family lawyer is ultimately the first point of call. This will have furnished them with an in depth understanding of the current legislation and case law that is applicable to divorces and what strategies are available to use in such cases. You can then ask them for further details about what sub-categories of family law they may specialise or have experience in to assess whether they would be best placed to advise on the specifics of your matter.

What is your assessment of my case and do you think I will be successful?

Once you have confirmed that your prospective solicitor is definitely qualified to take on your matter, you can then outline the details of your case so they are aware of specifics. This will help them to already begin formulating a strategy in their minds while accounting for any problem areas that particularly stand out to them from your description.
Conclude your overview with some simple questions about whether your desired outcome in pursuing legal action is achievable, how likely this is, and what obstacles may pose the biggest threat to that aim. This is an opportunity for you to understand whether pursuing your original intended course of action is advisable and also to gauge how confident your solicitor is in quickly formulating some initial steps and plans to achieve this.

How many divorce cases have you handled?

Sometimes lawyers may have only just recently become qualified solicitors and so it can be beneficial to enquire about how much practical experience they have in handling matters like yours. For more complex divorces with children and considerable assets involved, it is advisable to seek out a seasoned solicitor who has a reputable history of successfully representing many clients going through similar divorces. Bear in mind however that the overall reputation of the solicitor’s firm which they form part of is equally important here.

Do you believe that it’s better to negotiate than to go to court?common law marriage

Another factor to consider is that litigation is a costly business and the fees associated with going to court are particularly high. Further, the more court hearings a case induces, the longer it will likely take to resolve and so more chargeable time from the solicitor will be spent working on the client’s case. A good solicitor will therefore always try to negotiate a settlement on behalf of their client in the most efficient, cost-effective way and will try to avoid escalating any conflict to the point of going to court if possible. Understanding whether your prospective solicitor subscribes to this philosophy or conversely to the aim of inflaming litigation should always form part of your vetting process.

What are your fees and will you or another solicitor from the firm be handling my case?

Every solicitor has their own hourly rate which they charge their clients whenever they spend any time working on their case. Generally, the more experienced a solicitor is, the higher their hourly rate will be in order to account for their greater expertise.
As such, it is important to understand who exactly will be the acting solicitor on your case and what their hourly rate is to get an idea of the costs you will be incurring. However, solicitors’ firms are also made up of several other legal professionals, such as trainees, paralegals, and legal secretaries, who will have their own hourly rate (this is considerably lower for the latter two listed) and may also from time to time assist on your case. A good solicitor will always look to work in a cost-effective way for their client and so they will generally delegate more basic administrative tasks to other less senior members of the team to keep total charges to a minimum.

Note: Finding out if your prospective solicitor will be issuing you detailed itemised bills for the work their firm carries out on your case is a good way to gauge this.

How much will the divorce cost?

Finally, you should always ask for an estimate of what the total cost of getting divorced with your prospective solicitor’s representation will come to. A good solicitor will take into account how much difficulty or ease is likely to be encountered when resolving your case (this will directly impact costs as more contentious cases tend to last longer) and if there will be any additional charges that are likely to be incurred such as court fees, council fees, and barristers’ fees for example. How transparent they are in detailing these costs to you will help you to assess their level of integrity and will also clarify whether they and their firm are suitable for your budget.

At Grayfords, we pride ourselves in having an ethos that prioritises our clients’ success and well-being above all. Our solicitors always act to best meet our clients’ needs, aiming to engage in as much or a little litigation as they prefer relative to the requirements of their case. We also offer a unique fee structure wherein clients are represented by a blended team of solicitors of varying experience levels, allowing for the greatest level of expertise at the most affordable price point. We also provide  our clients with clearly itemised bills for greater transparency so they can rest assured that we act with integrity when managing their cases. If you are considering filing for a divorce or need assistance with any other family matter then don’t hesitate to book your free consultation today to find more about how we can help.

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