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What to ask your Divorce Solicitor?

Andrew Isaacs Law understand that getting a divorce can be a very daunting and emotional time and therefore remembering and knowing what to ask can be a difficult task.  Rest assured there are no right and wrong questions.

It is important to provide us with as much information as possible and never be afraid to ask questions.  Our team will always make time for you and give the support required. The answer you receive may not always be the answer you want or expect, but will be an answer from experience and knowledge with your best interests at the forefront.

We cannot give an exhaustive list of all questions to be asked as every case is unique, however here are a few key questions to get you started which can be asked at an initial consultation:

Do I have to get Divorced?

No. Only you can decide if you want to get divorced but there are always a range of options which we will explain to you at your first meeting. You may only know what you want to do when you have spoken to our team and listened to our advice.

Do I need a Lawyer?

The short answer is no.  However, we strongly recommend that you do instruct a lawyer.

Upon your initial consultation with us you will see the experience and professionalism of our team that will give you the confidence in instructing us.

The risk you take in not instructing a lawyer is that without proper legal advice you may not follow the correct divorce process which can create delay and incur additional fees. Further and more significantly you may not get the best settlement you could and cannot make informed decisions.

How much will it cost?

As will be repeatedly stated, every case is different so we cannot tell you definitively what your divorce will cost.

We will however always give you an estimate and be able to tell you the costs of the court fees. Court fees are known as disbursements and you should ask what other disbursements there could be and ask for an estimate of anticipated disbursements.

We want our clients to understand the expense of instructing us, so they don’t enter into something they may not be able to afford. We are here to help and not cause additional stress. Knowing the estimated cost from the outset will allow you to budget accordingly.

How is time charged?

This is a very important question for all clients to ask and understand the answer to.

Charging rates are set out in our terms and conditions but should you require further clarification you should always ask before signing them.

Lawyers bill their time in units, Andrew Isaacs Law bill clients in 6-minute units. You need to have an understanding how this works and you should ask your lawyer what their hourly charging rate is.

You can ask how much you will be expected to pay initially and then how you will be billed throughout, so you have an idea if you will receive a bill each month for example. It is important you understand how time is accrued.

As explained above we are here to help you and therefore if we think there is something you can do to save money and you are happy to have this level of involvement, we will advise you of this. An example could be, you could make online enquiries or obtain your own valuations of assets, this will save you the cost of us seeking the same (save for the appointment of joint experts).

Do I need the original Marriage Certificate to get Divorced?

If you are the person presenting the Divorce Petition, then you require the Marriage Certificate. If you have lost or misplaced the certificate, then you can order another, or we can do this for you. There will be a fee for the replacement.

We advise that you keep the certificate in a safe place. Once you are divorced the certificate will be destroyed so we advise taking a photocopy if you think you may wish to retain it for any reason such as to show your children when they are older.

Does it matter which Country we got married in?

We will ask questions at your initial consultation to ensure you are eligible to get divorced in England and Wales. You may be eligible to divorce in another country so you should always seek advice from that country as the law differs from country to country.

You can get divorced in England and Wales if:

  • You have been married for over one year;
  • Your relationship has permanently broken down;
  • Your marriage is legally recognized in the UK;
  • The court has the legal power (jurisdiction) to deal with the application.

If one of you lives in England and the other lives in Scotland, then you may be able to divorce in either country and should seek advice from a Scottish lawyer too as the law differs and it could impact on the outcome.

Will a Divorce finalise everything?

No. Unfortunately this is a common misconception, and this is the importance of instructing a lawyer or at the very least having an initial consultation.

Divorce and finances are two very separate matters. You can be divorced and not divided or sorted your assets such as your family home and bank accounts. When people think of being divorced, most think of a line in the sand where everything you have with that person has been divided and dealt with. A divorce is the legal dissolution of your marriage only.

It is important you ask your lawyer to explain the divorce process and the financial process and understand that even though they usually come hand in hand and can be dealt with at the same time, that they are separate.

Andrew Isaacs Law will give you an overview of the divorce process including obtaining a Decree Nisi then Decree Absolute with estimated timescales and estimated cost. The Decree Absolute is the legal document that dissolves your marriage.

We will also give you an overview of finances covering consent orders or by way of financial proceedings in court, considering  the three potential hearings that happen within financial proceedings; First Directions Appointment (FDA), Financial Remedy Proceedings (FDR) and Final Hearing.

How long will it take?

There is no set answer, and you are very much in the hands of the court’s timetable. It will vary from case to case but once you have given us all the information required, we will be able to give you an estimate. We will be able to give you an estimate on divorce and on financial matters.

Will the custody of our children be decided by the court when we get Divorced?

No. If you have children and are getting divorced, the court will not decide where your children will live. If you have issues over child arrangements, we can advise you on this also. However, it is not part of the divorce proceedings and a separate file will need to be opened.

The court’s paramount consideration where children are involved will always be the welfare and best interests of the children.

Your children will be discussed during an initial meeting and you should therefore ask any questions you may have for advice to be given. You will be advised how to resolve issues relating to the arrangements of your children.

What will happen to the house?

Every situation is different, and the options will differ case by case. However, for your initial meeting with us it would help us if  you know or obtain how your property is owned, an estimated value of the property, redemption figures of any mortgages or details of any charges on the property.

If you do not know how your property is owned, then our lawyers can make enquiries with the Land Registry and obtain this information. Our lawyers will be able to give you specific advice depending on whether your home is owned as tenants in common or as joint tenants. It is important to know how your home is owned.

If you have children, the court’s overriding objective is the housing needs of the children. The court will seek to adequately house both parties if there are enough assets to do so. The court seeks to be fair and reasonable and meet the reasonable housing needs of both parties.

Should I continue to live in the house until we are divorced and our finances are finalised?

This is a very personal question, but our team will talk you through your options and explain to you how your decision could impact your matter. The most important advice you will receive in answer to this question is to do what makes you happy and make the best decision for your own mental and physical wellbeing. Especially if you have children, consider what is in their best interests and promotes their welfare.

If you are in a dangerous environment telephone the Police in the first instance. If you are a victim of domestic violence our lawyers can provide urgent advice and remedies and put you in touch with appropriate support organisations and charities.

Never jeopardise yours or your children’s physical or mental health by remaining in a violent situation in fear of a detrimental impact on leaving your home during a divorce.

Can we Divorce amicably?

Absolutely, although it takes both sides to be amicable. We can gauge from your initial meeting which approach you wish to take and we will respect your wishes throughout. We work on your instructions.

A divorce doesn’t need to be a hostile process, if you both agree what you want, we can assist you in resolving matters without you having to attend court.

Court should always be a last resort and amicable negotiations and resolution will be recommended throughout, where appropriate. If your divorce can be resolved amicably it may well save you a considerable amount of money and time.

Will I have to attend court?

Not necessarily. Usually if matters can be agreed amicably there will be no need to attend court despite there being court proceedings.

A very low number of divorces each year actually require the parties to go to court. Only a very few cases require parties to attend divorce hearings.

Financial matters do often require the parties’ attendance at court if the parties are unable to agree matters amicably and by way of a consent order.

Andrew Isaacs Law will ensure you are prepared to attend any court appointments and if you so choose will send you with representation.

Will I have to pay the costs of the Divorce?

It is possible if you are the Petitioner that you may be able to seek an order that your spouse pays your costs of divorce, however this can usually be agreed between the parties.

Whomever presents the petition will state at the outset if they wish to seek an order for costs. Although this is common practice, it is not guaranteed the court will grant the order.

If you are awarded a costs order this will only be in relation to your costs of the divorce, not for any costs incurred in connection with your finances.

Will I be awarded a higher financial settlement if my ex committed adultery?

No. The role of the court in a divorce is to reach a fair settlement and for both parties to be on an equal footing. It is not to serve justice based on the parties’ behaviour. Adultery does not constitute a conduct claim.

For conduct to be taken into account it has to be extreme, conduct is only taken into account in exceptional circumstances.

If finances are resolved by way of agreement, then the party who feels they have been mistreated may be able to seek a higher settlement through their spouse’s guilt or moral obligation.

Do we offer Legal Aid?

We do not. Therefore, before an initial consultation with us we recommend you check your eligibility. If we think you could be eligible for Legal Aid then we would certainly let you know at your initial consultation.

What can I do to prepare for the consultation?

Preparation is key, if you start collating any relevant documents prior to your meeting this could save significant time in the long run and can also provide us with a full picture from the outset.

A good starting point is to collate all of your finances, things to consider:

  • take note of all bank accounts held jointly or in sole names including the balances;
  • obtain bank statements for the past 12 months;
  • obtain any mortgage redemption figures;
  • obtain or research your property value;
  • obtain any pension cash equivalent transfer values;
  • know income figures including any bonuses;
  • obtain wage slips;
  • get car valuations.

This is not a concise list but will go some way to assisting your lawyer.

Throughout your divorce full and frank financial disclosure will be required.

Contact us today and see how we can help you.

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Andrew Isaacs Law Ltd
3 Regent Terrace
Doncaster
DN1 2EE

01302 349 480

Call us now, our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 01302 349 480 or fill out our enquiry form here