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Divorce myth 4: Everything is usually fine until you consult a lawyer!

View profile for Karen Johnson
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Divorce myth 4: Everything is usually fine until you consult a lawyer!

If you are thinking about separating or divorce, it is important that you receive the right information and advice to protect yourself and your family. The only person qualified to advise you about your legal situation is a divorce and separation lawyer who can advise you on all aspects affecting your family including divorce, finances and children.

Your family is unique, so advice needs to be tailored your circumstances.

Why should I involve a lawyer, surely that will complicate matters?

Actually, the opposite is likely to be true. Relationship breakdown is an emotionally difficult time and the laws that deal with it can be very complex. Obtaining early advice from an expert lawyer means that you will know and understand exactly what your options are going forwards and be in the best position to avoid any potential pitfalls.

You could start your search for a lawyer with Resolution, an organisation with over 6500 divorce and separation lawyers who have all adopted a Code of Practice that promotes a non-confrontational approach to family problems. Members approach their work in a way which is sensitive, constructive, cost-effective and most likely to result in an agreement. They encourage solutions that consider the needs of the whole family and in particular the best interests of children. They have some helpful resources on their website www.resolution.org.uk. All of Birkett Long’s divorce and separation lawyers are members of Resolution.

Will a lawyer push me to go to court?

No, a divorce and separation lawyer will not push you into going to court – there are many options available to resolve family disputes. Court is the option of last resort.

At Birkett Long we have collaboratively trained lawyers. This is a new approach whereby you and your partner remain in the driving seat. We all commit not to go to court and you decide the order that matters are discussed and the speed goes at the rate of the slowest person. It is a bespoke approach that allows out-the-box thinking to find the best solution for your unique family. We have good working relationships with local mediators, and discussions can take place round a table or via letters. There are many options to consider, and we can help you work out which is best for you.

Aren’t lawyers difficult to understand?

No. We advise our clients in plain English, in a way that is easy to understand and avoids legal jargon.

We recognise that relationship breakdown is difficult enough and we do not want to make it worse. We very much encourage constructive communication and early resolution of disputes using alternatives to court such as negotiation, mediation and collaborative law.

The cost of instructing a lawyer will leave nothing left for us

The actual cost of instructing a lawyer can vary from case to case and very much depends upon the issues involved and the approach to the case, not only by us but also the other parties involved.

We believe that obtaining early advice in relation to your position, enables constructive negotiations and provides the best opportunity to obtain an early resolution of the issues without significant legal costs. Early advice also means that you can avoid potential pitfalls, which can then take time and money to resolve.

We believe in being clear and upfront in relation to the costs that are likely to be incurred and regularly keep this under review so that you are not met with any nasty surprises and are able to budget accordingly. We also regularly compare the costs against the benefits to make sure that it does not become disproportionate (and so leaves you with nothing).

Do we both have to instruct a lawyer?

No, you do not both have to instruct a lawyer. However, we generally find that where both of you have obtained advice from lawyers who are members of Resolution like us, this can help ensure that the discussions are constructive and allow for an early resolution of the issues, avoiding the need to apply to the court.

In the event that your ex-partner chooses not to instruct their own lawyer, we will correspond with them directly on your behalf and in a way which encourages constructive communication and is sensitive and cost-effective. We cannot, however, advise you both.

What if I am not sure what I want to do?

That is absolutely fine. Perhaps you are not sure whether or not you want to separate. We can help explain what your options are if you do decide that the relationship is definitely over. We will not take any steps to contact your partner or others without your agreement. We also encourage reconciliation if there is a chance that the relationship can be saved.

So what is my next step in considering separation or divorce?

Separation and divorce involves making decisions that can impact upon the rest of your and your children’s lives. Advice from an expert is essential. We offer a free 15 minute telephone call with one of our specialist divorce and separation lawyers to help identify what issues you face and how we might help.

If you would like to set up an initial conversation then please contact one of us:

Karen is based at our Colchester office on 01206 217305 or alternatively you can email me at karen.johnson@birkettlong.co.uk

Francesca is based at our Chelmsford office on 01245 453843 or alternatively you can email me at francesca.cozens@birkettlong.co.uk

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