So you have taken the decision to dissolve your marriage, but who should you instruct, and what should you ask them at the initial appointment?
1. Experience – How long have you been practising family law?
Instructing an inexperienced lawyer can be particularly risky unless they are closely supervised. There can be no substitution for seeking advice from an experienced family law solicitor who is likely to know not just the law but also the Judges in the locality as well as other local knowledge. An experienced family solicitor will also have experience in drafting and negotiation and will often be a member of a recognised body. In family law, you should always look for the Resolution Specialist Accreditation logo, as those solicitors have often been through a rigorous test to establish their suitability to be accredited.
2. Litigious? – What percentages of cases have you had that go to trial?
You need a confident and experienced solicitor who will be able to handle your case and advise you when the time is right to proceed to Court. A good solicitor, however, will be able to settle the case without proceeding to Court, although Court proceedings sometimes become a necessary evil to resolve matters, whether they be financial or children. A family solicitor who has that experience will be able to identify at the initial meeting whether your case is suitable for negotiations, dispute resolution or Court proceedings. Sometimes it becomes almost inevitable that Court proceedings have to be issued to preserve and protect assets or to protect the welfare of children.
3. Goals – How can my goals be best achieved?
All options in relation to achieving your goal should be discussed, but a good family solicitor will be able to tell you which option is best for you and your circumstances. Often negotiation will initially be suggested, but in certain circumstances, this could be a false economy as you could end up going to Court anyway, and the cost of any pre-proceedings work could have been incorporated within the cost of the Court proceedings.
4. Costs – how much will all this cost me?
Well, this of course, depends upon which option you pursue, but an experienced family solicitor will be able to forecast the costs of whichever option you pursue. They will be able to tell you what the typical fees in your case are likely to be, although unless the fee is fixed or is pro bono, it is often the actions of others or the involvement of experts that can increase fees. A good family solicitor will be able to tell you how legal fees are generally increased and how you can mitigate that. A good family lawyer who is supportive and cares about you and your future will be able to explore all possible funding options with you and, in the right circumstances, may be able to offer fixed fees or pro bono work. O’Donnell Solicitors offer a flexible and proactive approach in relation to fees and can explore them based on your particular circumstances.
5. Protection – How will you protect my interests?
It is important that you agree on a way forward with your family solicitor. A good family solicitor will be able to support you through what is an emotional period in your life, as well as being objective in their advice. There is no point in getting your hopes up to fall flat on your face. It is important that your interests are looked after despite the objective advice not being what you want to hear.
At O’Donnell Solicitors, we have experienced family solicitors who are able to advise you on the options open to you so that you can achieve your goals and be protected in a cost-efficient way.
Anthony Jones is the Head of Family Law and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist. For more information or a second opinion, please contact him at 0161 641 4555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.