Getting your divorce financial settlement right is key to finalising a divorce settlement. Increasingly individuals decide to undertake the financial remedy process themselves. Some believe the marital finances are straightforward and an agreed settlement can be arrived at without the intervention of a lawyer. For others, it seems to makes little sense to spend money on legal advice against the backdrop of a divorce which has already had a severe impact on the overall family finances.
These motivations are perfectly understandable. Individuals may have attempted to negotiate the financial settlement directly with their spouse and/or his or her lawyers. They might even have appeared on their own behalf before a judge at a financial gearing. However at Brookman it’s not unusual for us to take on clients who have previously represented themselves in this way. In such instances it has become clear to the individuals that investing in specialist legal advice is worthwhile. It’s the best way to ensure they get a financial settlement that meets the needs of the parties and one that will not be subject to challenge in future.
Here we look at some of the things you should consider when asking a solicitor to take over your financial remedy case and some of the information the solicitor will ask you for.
Increase In Litigants In Person
First, it’s worth highlighting that engaging a solicitor midway through your divorce is not unusual. Litigants in person (LiPs) – those who represent themselves – are a common sight in family courts. The Law Society points out that in April to June 2022, the number of cases where neither party had legal representation was 39%. This marked a 25% increase since 2013. Courts understand that many LiPs will need formal representation at some stage and are willing to accommodate such a change within reason. Reputable family solicitors too will understand instinctively how to ensure a seamless transfer of representation.
Meeting Your Solicitor
It’s never straightforward meeting with a solicitor for the first time. You’ll have a lot of questions and it’s important that your concerns are dealt with upfront. You might find our article on the type of questions to ask your solicitor useful. At Brookman we offer a free consultation to outline the way the divorce system works and provide initial guidance on your case. If your case has already started there may well be pressing issues to deal with like disclosure of assets and financial details as well as upcoming hearings.
Have You Represented Yourself? What Your Solicitor Will Need To Know
As we’ve said, instructing a solicitor midway through proceedings when you have already acted for yourself is not unusual. But if you do decide to ask a solicitor to represent you in your financial remedy case it’s important to provide as much detail as possible and to act promptly in case any directions of the court must be complied with. So your solicitor will want to establish:
- Contact details of your spouse and his or her solicitor and details for anyone else involved in proceedings.
- Has a date been set for any hearing? Your solicitor will be keen to establish what stage your case is it. Do you need to prepare for a First Appointment or have you reached the Pre-Trial Review stage or Final Appointment stage?
- What hearings have already been held, and do you have copies of any court orders? (These are important because they will verify what, if anything, you need to do to ensure compliance with what the judge has said).
- Has mediation or any kind of ADR taken place? What were the results?
Ensuring Financial Details Are Clear
Depending on the stage you have reached in your proceedings your spouse may already have disclosed his or her financial details on Form E, and the court may have made interim financial orders or ordered that certain assets be valued by experts.
To ensure your solicitor can provide you with the most effective representation in your financial remedy case you should be able to provide details of these as well as give your solicitor a clear picture about:
- Who owns what. Are assets jointly held or held on trust or will it be necessary to establish beneficial ownership in some other way?
- Are there any trust deeds your solicitor needs to be aware of?
- Has there been any sale of assets by you or your spouse in the recent past (say in the last three years)?
- Do you or your spouse have any foreign assets?
- Will anyone else be affected by the division of your assets? This might be the case if you or your spouse are partners or shareholders in any kind of outside business.