Getting divorced is often quoted as one of the most stressful experiences someone can go through. It is never an easy decision. It is one of the most important financial transactions you will do. It is therefore vital to ensure the team you instruct is the right one for you. Your solicitor should make your divorce easier to deal with rather than a stressful process. We often get asked how easy it is to change solicitors once the process has already begun. the short answer is, it should be easy.
If you want to discuss changing lawyers today, pleas get in touch.
How to choose a family lawyer?
Divorce and Family Law is becoming more and more complex and it is a highly specialised field. Judges have a wide discretion when deciding what a financial settlement should be and therefore there is not a one size fits all. It is important if you have a complicated divorce that you instruct a solicitor that has experience in dealing with the issues in hand and is up to date with the law on the topic. An example of a complicated case might be those with complex asset structures, company interests to consider, arguments about whether assets are “matrimonial” or not, where there might be international considerations and where there might be pre or post nuptial agreements.
Word of mouth recommendations for family lawyers are sometimes the best way to choose a solicitor. Indeed, at Edwards Family Law a large part of our work comes from referrals and previous clients. If you think your case might be more complicated than a friend’s, those lawyers may not have the experience to deal with your case.
If you are unsure about your current legal team and want to see if we can help, get in touch today.
Why change family solicitors?
Divorce is a very personal thing. It is vital that you have a good relationship with your solicitor, and you feel that you trust them both personally and in the advice they give.
One of the most common issues is when someone feels their lawyer lacks confidence in their advice and cannot think on their feet. If your lawyer always says they need to “get back to you” when you ask them a question, then something is probably wrong. If they do not have confidence in their own ability, it is difficult to see how they can expect you to have confidence in them. You should always be able to voice your concerns without fear of being made to feel stupid or shouted at and with an answer being given quickly.
Unfortunately, the relationship between solicitor and client can often deteriorate to the point of no return. The most common reasons we are approached for include;
· a concern about overcharging or high fees;
· lack of confidence in the advice being given;
· concerns about or lack of strategy in the case and feeling like you have no idea what is going on;
· A failure to return calls or emails and frequent unavailability to deal with your case;
· concerns about lack of progress on the case and missing court deadlines;
· a lack of trust;
· not being listened to or heard in any way or that the important facts that they are giving to their solicitors have been overlooked.
· the solicitor does not know or remember the finer details about the case;
Ultimately if you lose trust or confidence in your solicitor for whatever reason, you should at the very least seek a second opinion. If you want to get a second opinion, please get in touch.
In what circumstances can I change solicitor?
If you have concerns about your solicitor and the advice you are receiving, you should seek a second opinion from a specialist family lawyer. To give that opinion, most lawyers will need some basic background information about your case with a snapshot of the assets. A good lawyer will ask the right questions in that initial phone call but any documents you have should be provided before your initial consultation if you are going to get the most from it.
It may well be that the second opinion is the same as the advice you have already received, and this gives you a new sense of optimism and reassurance that your case is on the right track. If not, or you still feel that the confidence and trust has gone, you can switch to new lawyers completely and immediately.
When should I change?
You are legally allowed to change solicitors at any time. You will have to pay any final bill and our experience tells us to ask for an up to date bill of costs before you confirm you are moving lawyers. Only once your final bill is paid will you be able to have your papers released and so it is important you consider any important dates before deciding to go ahead. If you are thinking of changing solicitors and there are court deadlines looming, we would recommend speaking to other lawyers as soon as possible and if necessary asking your existing lawyers to stop work (especially if you are concerned about the advice you are being given or generally quality of work).
In addition, the timing of when you change might be crucial. If there are hearings coming up you may want to ensure you have changed teams so that the strategy going into that hearing is correct and you have confidence moving forward that nothing has been missed. Even if it is a week before the next hearing, if the new lawyer has the time and wherewithal to read in on your case, they will make it happen. On the other hand, it might be more appropriate for you to stay with your existing legal team until that hearing has taken place.
How long does it take?
Appointing a new solicitor for your divorce or family proceedings is simple and straightforward. Once you have paid your final bill, your old solicitors should release your files to your new solicitors’, and you will need to confirm to your old solicitors that you authorise this. Your old solicitors should get the file ready quickly, but if they are slow or seek to delay matters, your new solicitors can and should be able to move it along.
Your new solicitors will then tell the other side and the court that they are acting for you. It will then be a question of your new solicitors reading into your case and getting to grips with all the detail. The time this will take will depend on how long your case has been going on and how complex the disclosure might be together with what other work your new solicitors have. Your new solicitors should be able to give you a clear indication on this. If they cannot, they are probably not going to be an improvement.
If you want to find out how long it might take for us to take on your case, get in touch today.
Is it going to cost me a lot in fees to change lawyers?
You should always try to get an indication on how long the reading in process will take (both in terms of time and costs). The time this takes will also depend on how the file has been put together. We often find that if a file has been put together badly or is disorganised, it is a good reflection on how the case has been managed. Your new solicitor should then be able to discuss the strategy for your case. If you have a good idea of the amount of papers in your case then this will help us give a clear idea on timing and costs.
Is it too late to change solicitors?
If you have already had a final hearing and final orders have been made it will be too late to re argue your case. In limited circumstances you can appeal, and you should consult another solicitor to determine your chances of success. In addition, depending on the advice you received from your existing solicitor you may have a claim for professional negligence. In any other situation, even leading up to a final hearing, you can change lawyers if you need to.
If you think any of the above issues are relevant to your case, have lost confidence in your existing solicitor or just want a second opinion, please get in touch with us today for a confidential, no obligation consultation.