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Our blog provides illustrated practical guides for those going through the divorce process, plus news on divorce, money and family breakdown.

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22 September 2011

How to get the best out of your family lawyer: my top 10 tips (part 1)

You have selected your lawyer and are happy with that choice. How then do you ensure you get the best out of them?

Mahie Abey
My top 10 tips (part 1) in no particular order are:

1.      If your lawyer asks you to do something within a particular timescale try your very best to do so. There will be a good reason for the request and if you delay your lawyer will chase you  - which will cost you more. If you can’t keep to the timescale let them know in advance.

2.      If your lawyer says they will do something by a particular time chase them! Tragically he or she who shouts loudest often gets dealt with first.

3.      When you send documents to your lawyers, especially enclosures to Form E and enclosures supporting answers to questionnaire or a statement, do not send them in any old order. The surest way to increase your costs is to present your information and documents to your legal team in a way that takes them hours to sort out and understand. Index everything and make it clear what each document is and what it relates to.

4.      Understand that finance cases do not have a ‘right answer’. The aim of the exercise is for your lawyer to work with you in getting to a settlement that you can at least live with. It is a team effort and you are an integral part of that team.

5.      If you have views express them as clearly as possible. However do not expect your lawyer to agree with you on everything. You are paying for their advice and therefore you should listen to it - and if you chose to disregard it do so only after you have thought about it thoroughly.

6.      Be realistic. Your lawyer will do all that they can to get you the best outcome. However they cannot perform miracles and therefore if the result you are seeking is objectively unfair or unreasonable it is likely to be unattainable.

7.      Do have very high expectations. Your lawyer will be charging you significant sums for their services. You have the right to expect high quality advice and levels of client care.

8.      Ask your lawyer to send everything (of importance) to you in draft before it goes to your ex-partner’s lawyers. That way you can be sure you have seen everything and agree it. It will also help avoid mistakes (which can often occur) and cement the fact that your divorce and the resolution of finances is a team effort.

9.      Understand that the court system is slow and beset with delays and that your lawyers can do nothing about that.

10.  Ask for itemised bills and check them. Like anyone providing a service your lawyers will be happy to correct any mistakes or explain anything you don’t understand. Being open about the costs is important for you to maintain the relationship you need to progress through your divorce.