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How to get the best from your family lawyer

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Getting divorced can be a frightening process and many people have not accessed lawyers before and suddenly find themselves in a new arena. Legal fees can be an expensive process but at Stephensons we offer total flexibility as to how you wish to use our services whether by way of a fixed fee, an hourly rate or a consultancy fee.

So what advice can we offer to navigate your way around? The first rule must be to be open and honest. Appropriate advice cannot be given unless your lawyer is aware of all the facts. Take advice from your lawyer even if it is not what you want to hear. Your solicitor is experienced and will be able to advise you of the law as it applies to you. It is always useful to have a notebook to note down important points so that you can raise appropriate questions and consider the advice after the meeting. It is often useful to make a list before you attend a meeting so you can recall any points you want to ask about.

Make sure you keep careful records. You will need copies of bank statements and other financial documents and remember the aim is that you and your lawyer will work together as a team and that is how you will get the best from their legal services.

You do not need to be frightened of your lawyer and if you are you need to consider if they are right for you. You will be asked for information and you should also expect that they will respond to you within reasonable times. However, you need to be realistic. Most lawyers do not have just one case to deal with and if they do they are perhaps not the best choice. You need to be flexible, listen to advice and maybe be prepared to compromise.

You need to choose your battles. It is not cost effective to argue about the sofa or who should have the wine glasses. This is not a good use of your lawyers time and will make your case expensive. Try and keep the communication lines open with your spouse so you can discuss matters like that directly.

Finally, don’t use your lawyer as a counsellor. It is tempting to do so but can become expensive. If you feel you need counselling ask to be referred to an appropriate person who can help.

And remember there is a new beginning waiting for you out there.

By family law solicitor and mediator, Gillian Davies