Family law myths number 3: do I need a family lawyer for an amicable divorce?

1st February 2024

It is often a misconception amongst potential clients that instructing family law solicitors will increase hostility between a divorcing couple or that the couple have to resolve their financial remedy dispute in court. This partly seems to stem from a misunderstanding that instructing Family lawyers is a line of attack rather than being a means to facilitate the negotiation of a solution to the problem. Fortunately, with experienced and constructive solicitors instructed, this should not be the case. We set out how family lawyers can help with an amicable divorce.

How to separate amicably and fairly

Family law solicitors will consider the best approach to their client’s case, whereas this can be complicated for potential clients navigating divorce, financial remedies and/or children disputes for the first time. Amongst the 6,500 solicitors in England and Wales who are Resolution members, dispute resolution options outside of the court process are actively encouraged.

Having solicitors instructed ensures that clients have clear, accurate information. Each case is very fact specific and there are common misunderstandings amongst the general public regarding family law which could cloud a party’s judgment when it comes to dividing finances or making suitable arrangements for their children. Taking advice at the outset manages client expectations and clients are able to make informed decisions and this should not stand in the way of maintaining a constructive dialogue with their former partner.

How do family lawyers help with an amicable divorce?

As experts in the field, family law solicitors add value; they are removed from the emotional aspects of the couple’s situation so that they can think objectively, which encourages cost-proportionality and ensures that clients can focus on the key aspects of a settlement.

Without the benefit of family law solicitors, couples may fall foul of common bear traps such as simply taking their divorce through the online divorce process and up to final order without resolving the matrimonial finances and being at risk of potential future claims. Alternatively they might not be able to agree to appropriate provision that should be made in their favour and risk ‘selling themselves short’ or reaching an impasse. There is also the risk of  the parties agreeing to a financial division that is potentially unfair in the eyes of the law, which would lead to a judge rejecting the parties’ consent application for the financial division, if it appears to be imbalanced.

Reducing potential issues

Solicitors highlight the potential for practical difficulties and implementation problems so that these can be avoided. These may not be clear to a couple who do not have the professional experience of dealing with these matters on a day to day basis. This saves additional cost and the risk of eroding goodwill if implementation problems have to be unpicked after a financial agreement has been approved by the Court or after the parties have agreed children’s arrangements.

Rather than fearing that instructing a family lawyer will automatically be a hostile step, separating couples who would like an amicable divorce should be reassured that they each will have the benefit of their lawyer’s experience in the legal process and providing advice on fair and realistic parameters of settlement. Clients will benefit from their solicitors’ experience in keeping cases focused and ensuring that the solution negotiated is proportionate and enforceable so that they can then look to the future.

If you are looking to divorce or separate

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