Do you need a lawyer when you separate?
This is a question that we get asked a lot by clients that have come directly to family mediation rather than seeking advice from a lawyer first. Often both clients have come to the conclusion that their relationship has reached the end of the road at the same time. They want to maintain an amicable relationship and they have some idea of the arrangements they’d like to put in place with regard to money, or their children, or both. They both trust that they will play fair and so they wonder whether they need a lawyer.
It can certainly be helpful in some circumstances to have some advice from a lawyer as part of your family mediation process and we would suggest particularly in the following circumstances:
1. You have wondered more than once if the decisions you’re making about what happens next and what money you will have are right for you. Making informed decisions about things that will affect you over the next 3,5 or 10+ years is hard and we would always suggest that if you are feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable about that prospect then spending a few hundred pounds on going over everything with a good lawyer is likely to give you peace of mind and is probably a good investment.
2. You are concerned that you’re being manipulated or having your feelings played upon to influence you to agree to something you’re not altogether comfortable with. Again in this situation peace of mind is really important and so it may be sensible to go and have a meeting with a solicitor, with a full breakdown of what money you each have, so that they can guide you about the decisions you’re making.
3. If you have particularly complicated finances then some expert help may well be useful to ensure that you are on top of all the implications of your decisions. This may particularly be the case if you have investment properties, one or both of you is involved in your company, either of you is a beneficiary under a trust fund or you have assets totally over a million pounds (which is not just one property).
We see people who are often worried that lawyers will seek to position them against each other and try to spin out a long battle. Good lawyers don’t do this and will always work to your instructions and encourage you to be realistic about the way forward. Finding a lawyer that subscribes to Resolution’s Code of conduct can be a good step. If you’re local to us then by all means contact us as we’re always happy to share details of helpful local lawyers.
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