Relationship breakdown is often complex and is usually emotionally charged. Yet, it is also a time when you are required to assimilate a great deal of information and make important decisions with far reaching implications for the future.

For some, the Coronavirus pandemic has brought unique challenges and additional pressure to the mix. Market volatility is causing both asset values and the employment market to fluctuate. It is therefore more important than ever to seek the right advice when facing separation or divorce.

More on the financial impacts of Coronavirus on divorce here.

Arrangements can still be put in place and progress made during lockdown and with social distancing measures in place. Where appropriate, alternative dispute resolution options and virtual meetings and hearings may be required.

Instructing the right lawyer to deal with the particular circumstances of your case is a vital first step. You should carry out thorough research and, if possible, instruct somebody who has been personally recommended to you. It is likely that you and your lawyer will be working together for many months and confidence in your lawyer is vital.

Quality advice can be costly and therefore, an orderly approach to taking legal advice upon separation or divorce will assist you in working alongside your lawyer to secure the best outcome in the most cost efficient manner.

Being orderly when your life may have been turned upside down is not always easy and the following simple guidelines may help:

  1. Ensure that all of your financial information is up-to-date and in proper order. Have to hand all statements relating to the bank accounts in which you have an interest, tax returns, property valuations, business accounts and, where necessary, management accounts.
  2. Prepare a detailed chronology of the key dates and events during the marriage or the relationship, particularly where these events have financial consequences.
  3. Prepare fully for your meetings. Take with you a clear note of what it is you wish to discuss with your lawyer. Understand fully the purpose of the meeting and, where appropriate, ask your lawyer for a draft agenda in advance.
  4. At the end of your meeting ensure that there is a clear understanding of the actions your lawyer will be taking on your behalf and what actions are required of you. You should understand fully the next steps in your case and the timescales involved.
  5. If necessary, ask for a note of the meeting including the agreed course of action.
  6. Read all communications carefully. Deal promptly with requests for information. Do not wait for your solicitor to chase you. This may cause delay and is likely to increase costs.
  7. Ensure that you receive full and regular estimates of fees for each stage of your case. Make sure that no expert evidence is obtained on your behalf without the costs of such evidence being agreed with you beforehand.
  8. Listen to advice. Be reasonable and remain open minded. The advice being given to you by your lawyer may not always be what you want to hear. Your lawyer must advise you against the benchmark of what a court is likely to order. However hurtful, the actions of a former partner, when it comes down to arrangements for the children or negotiating a financial settlement, a clear head and pragmatism are required. Think carefully about what really matters to you. Relay that information to your lawyer and ensure that the best possible outcome for you is secured in a realistic and a cost efficient manner.

The relationship you have with your divorce lawyer is probably the most important you will have with any professional. A good divorce lawyer will help you navigate through one of the most emotional and challenging times in your life, with clarity and compassion. However difficult or complex your situation, the specialist family lawyers at Silk Family Law have the expertise to help you achieve the best possible outcome.

You can contact us online or call the team nearest to you on 01748 900 888 (North Yorkshire), 0113 819 7370 (Leeds) or 0191 500 0777 (Newcastle).

This blog post was written by Silk Family Law co-founder and partner, Margaret Simpson.

Photo credit: Scott Graham on Unsplash