I am worried about seeing a solicitor
Don’t worry. I am approachable and friendly and will meet you at a neutral venue if you prefer. I will see you for an initial free consultation to review your options and to give you chance to decide whether I am the right person to help you. I can also help you to find emotional and practical support from a counsellor or coach.
We have reached an agreement. Do we still need to see a solicitor?
It is always sensible to discuss the agreement you are considering to ensure you have thought about all the issues and if you are divorcing or dissolving a civil partnership it is sensible to present your agreement to the court for their approval to prevent possible problems in the future. This will still be an amicable divorce or separation.
Can I get legal Aid?
Unfortunately I do not offer legal aid (public funding) but can let you know if you might be eligible and if so to find a lawyer who can help. I can advise you on how you can limit the money you might need to spend.
I am worried about the fees. How much will it cost?
I cannot provide you with an exact figure of how much it will cost as this will depend on the complexity of your case, the issues involved and to a degree your partner’s approach. I will however give you an estimate at our first meeting which I will update you on a regular basis, always checking with you at each stage of the process. In some cases I will quote a fixed fee for certain types of work, however most is charged at a fixed hourly rate, currently £230 per hour plus VAT, currently at 20%.
Do I need to bring anything with me to our meeting?
It is helpful for you to have some basic information about your finances if possible. However you don’t need to bring anything with you at first. I will need some form of identification, ideally either your passport or photo driver’s license and a recent utility bill sent to you at your home address.
We have agreed everything, can you act for both of us?
As a solicitor Code of Conduct Rules prevent me from acting for both of you however amicable you may be. I can help your partner to find another Resolution lawyer. As a Mediator I can see you together, although you will still need separte lawyers to implement any agreement.
How do I decide whether to go for mediation, collaborative family law or a more traditional approach?
I will be able to discuss the merits of all the options with you to help you choose the best one for you. Your choice may depend on your partner’s willingness or ability to cooperate with you, where you and your partner live and the various cost implications. The costs overall are going to depend on how quickly your matter can be resolved, how much work I need to do and whether we need to bring in other experts, such as financial advisors or family therapists, to help.
What is the difference between collaborative family law and family mediation?
In family mediation the mediator is a neutral third party who does not give either of you legal advice and will not side with either of you. The mediator is there to facilitate discussion between you and your partner and has a duty to advise you each to take separate legal advice. Any settlement discussed during family mediation is only binding once each of you has had the opportunity to take independent legal advice and the lawyers have drawn up the agreement which is then approved by a court. The mediator cannot prepare the court document for you. In collaborative family law you each have your own lawyer throughout the process advising you and presenting your case on your behalf. If you don’t feel up to negotiating on your own behalf, aren’t sure about the financial side of things, or feel vulnerable in the sole presence of the other party, collaborative process could be preferable to mediation. If you reach agreement during the collaborative process the lawyers can prepare all the paperwork for the court.