Divorce solicitors – select the best for you

Divorce solicitors should be more than just legal advisers when your marriage breaks down. They will also be a much-needed friend who will guide you through what might well be the most difficult time of your life.

Make sure to select the one that’s best for you.

Good divorce lawyers will understand the stress you’re experiencing and offer much-need emotional support. They will tell you everything you need to hear – even on those occasions when you don’t want to hear it.

Divorce is one of life’s most traumatic events. It can be both emotionally challenging and legally complex. Having the right divorce solicitor by your side is vital if you’re going to steer your way through this difficult process at a time when your emotions may be running high, so choose wisely.

Services covered by good divorce solicitors

Good divorce solicitors need a variety of skills, ranging from being legal experts to having a reassuring demeanour, enabling them to empathise with you and offer support through what may turn out to a very difficult time.

Choose someone you feel comfortable with and then be prepared to let them guide you, so your divorce can be as smooth stress free as possible.

Divorce law is a specialist area and some firms narrow it down even further with solicitors dealing with difference niches.  Here are some of the main areas where your lawyer will be able to help you.

Divorce law guidance

At the basic level, your solicitor will provide essential legal advice on the divorce process, explaining your rights, responsibilities, and the options available to you.

They can guide you through the legal requirements, ensuring that you meet all necessary deadlines and complete the required paperwork accurately.

Grounds for divorce

This is not as complex as it used to be. Until recently, your solicitor had to establish valid grounds for divorce, such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or separation for a specified period.

Thankfully, that all changed with the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. This came into effect in 2022 and introduced the concept of ‘no-fault’ divorce. Now the person seeking divorce only has to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. 

Couples can also now apply jointly for a divorce, if the decision to separate is mutual. 

Divorce settlements

Nearly all divorces require couples to agree a financial settlement. This determines how your joint assets such as the matrimonial home, savings accounts, pensions etc are shared between you after you separate.

Divorce law is designed to achieve a fair and equitable outcome, taking into consideration factors such as income, contributions, and future needs. It can get complicated though, you will need a solicitor to ensure you get a fair deal. Don’t sign a divorce settlement without expert legal advice.

Child custody and contact

Together with the financial settlement, child custody and contact rights are the most important aspects of divorce and sometimes the most difficult to agree on.

Whatever the parents want or think, the law will prioritise the needs of the children above all else, so be prepared to compromise if need be.

Your solicitor will know how best to negotiate child custody arrangements, visitation schedules, and child support agreements. It’s important to follow your solicitor’s advice on this as the courts take a dim view of any parent seeming to put their own needs above the needs of their children during divorce proceedings.

Spousal maintenance after divorce

Following the divorce, one partner may require the other to pay maintenance, either indefinitely or for a specified period.

This is usually the wife as they may have given part of their careers to raise children, but men can also make a claim if the roles were reversed or there are other qualifying circumstances.

How much is payable depends on several factors such as the length of the marriage, and income disparities. Again, it’s crucial to have your solicitor guide you through this process.

Mediation and dispute resolution

Sometimes couples can’t reach agreement on important matters like child custody and financial settlements.

This could lead to court proceedings and it’s likely that before it gets that far, your solicitor will recommend mediation or alternative dispute resolution, which is very similar.

These processes are designed to help you reach an amicable settlement without having to go to court. They involve you and your spouse meeting to discuss disagreements in the presence of a trained mediator.

Your solicitor can attend with you and offer guidance and support. Mediation works for most couples who try it, enabling them to reach an amicable agreement that is fair to both without the stress of court action. It is usually much cheaper than court as well.

Divorce Proceedings

Sometimes couples just can’t reach agreement and there is no alternative but court proceedings. This is where good divorce solicitors are particularly important.

It can be a complex process and everything has to be done correctly for you to get a good outcome.

Your solicitor will deal with all the legal and court requirements at the same time as supporting you through what many people find a trying and stressful process.

Marital asset protection

Divorces tend to get more complicated when large sums of money and other valuable assets are included.

Divorce law defaults to the concept of a 50-50 division of the marital assets.

Sometimes, however, there are assets that may not be considered to be marital assets. These could include assets accrued before the marriage or as a result of one partner’s rare, specialised skill.

One spouse might have inherited a large sum and feel it is not a marital asset and should not be shared. It could also be that one partner entered the marriage with far more wealth than the other, or they may be expecting to inherit wealth in the future.

Divorce solicitors are familiar with these issues and will be able to advise you on the best way to exclude non-marital assets from the financial settlement.

Post-divorce matters

Your solicitor doesn’t necessarily sign off once the divorce goes through.

They can also provide guidance on post-divorce matters such as enforcing court orders, modifying child custody arrangements, or addressing financial issues that may arise, sometimes several years later.

Domestic violence and protective injunctions

Divorce solicitors can also support clients who have experienced domestic violence during the marriage and remain in fear of their former spouse.

The courts can impose protective injunctions, occupation orders, and non-molestation orders to ensure your safety and the safety of your children during and after the divorce process.

Finding a divorce solicitor

Selecting the right solicitor is crucial to achieving a successful divorce and minimizing stress during the process. Consider the following factors when choosing a divorce solicitor:

Specialisation and experience

Look for a solicitor who specialises in family and divorce law and has extensive experience handling different cases.

If you have particular issues, such as needing to protect valuable non-matrimonial assets, you may need to look further and find a lawyer who specialises in that area.

Professional accreditation

Check if the solicitor is a member of professional bodies such as Resolution or the Law Society’s Family Law Accreditation Scheme. Membership indicates a commitment to high standards of practice and ongoing professional development.

Reputation and reviews

Research the solicitor’s reputation and read client reviews or testimonials to gauge their track record and client satisfaction. This can provide insights into their professionalism, communication skills, and effectiveness in handling divorce cases.

Personal compatibility

Divorce can be emotional so it helps to have a solicitor who will be sensitive to your feelings and offer support.

Schedule an initial consultation to assess personal compatibility. Effective communication and a good rapport are essential, as you will be working closely with them throughout the divorce process.

Fee structure and transparency

Discuss fees and costs upfront, ensuring transparency in billing practices.

Understand how the solicitor charges (hourly rates or fixed fees) and inquire about any additional expenses that may arise. Ensure the fee structure aligns with your budget and expectations.

Availability and accessibility

Consider the solicitor’s availability and accessibility. Prompt responsiveness and clear communication are vital for a smooth and efficient divorce process.

Ensure the solicitor can provide the level of attention and support you require. There may be times when you feel alone and worried; you don’t want to wait too long for your solicitor to reply to your inquiries as that can add to the stress.

Family law solicitors