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Who can represent me in my divorce?

This article can never replace a lawyer’s procedural support or advice but would only make suggestive references about various means to provide an overview to obtaining legal assistance in your family case.

Your family case can be represented by a:

 

  1. Solicitor
  2. Barrister
  3. Legal Executives

There are other legal support personnel carrying out legal support work in family case matters known as “Paralegals”. Paralegals usually understand legal work and are trained to assist qualified legal professionals in their work. Paralegals are not qualified legal professionals but sometimes they can be highly experienced Paralegals assisting senior solicitors and staff in reputable law firms. A solicitor with a good standing in a reputed law firm are also assigned a trainee solicitor to assist in the law firm and department’s work and is called a Trainee Solicitors. Likewise, a trainee barrister is known as a Pupil.

All Qualified legal professionals including solicitors and legal practices are regulated by Solicitors Regulation Authority in England and Wales. The legal professionals have to follow professional ethics of the practice diligently and protect their client’s interest. Solicitors also need to help the court and ensure that justice prevails. Legal professionals are expected to adhere to court rules and procedures precisely and avoid involving in professional malpractices for self-gain. Solicitors Regulation Authority conducts regular audits and as a regulatory body keenly looks into any kind of complaints received against lawyers who tend to deviate from their professional duties towards their client and court. A disciplinary proceeding and action against lawyer may result in cancellation of the practice certificate. A solicitor or a law firm has is duty bound as per Solicitors Regulation Authority guidelines to appraise their clients of their rights as a client and complaint procedures in case of any grievances.

divorce lawyer

 

Solicitors

Many reputed solicitors have nationwide presence with centralised offices and branches across the country. The advent of sophisticated technology and communication systems have reduced distances throughout and your need for a specialist lawyer for subject issue is fulfilled with a touch of a fingertip

In a family dispute it is usual to appoint a solicitor. The solicitor would conduct structured case analysis and take care of document management. A solicitor would correspond with the solicitors on the opposite side, court and also instruct an expert barrister to consider the matter and represent the party in the courts. In order to save costs of the parties involved, the new evolved Public Access Scheme allows a client to directly appoint a barrister to handle their matter in the court of law and make submission. In these circumstances the parties in conflict apart from facing emotional stress have to put in substantial time and effort in preparing case briefs, case and document management, case filing and other ancillary work in respect of their case. It is apparent that Public Access Scheme is not suitable for the people involved in family court disputes.

Solicitors do attend the court hearing on behalf of their client. However, in matters such as family disputes the solicitors are likely to suggest an expert barrister while they complete the document management and other ancillary work on the case. This is due to the fact that solicitors generally handle different case types in their practice apart from family disputes. Family matters require particular expertise and exclusive attention at hearing due to lengthy sessions at court hearings. Barristers are used to such kind of circumstances and deal with the matters before the court efficiently with assistance provided by solicitors. The coordination between a solicitor and a barrister has to be established appropriately for the conduct of the family court matter to be successfully completed.

Solicitors can also agree to assist you in your matter on pay as you go basis. You can instruct a solicitor to carry out limited and precise work at specified stages of the matter, where it becomes important for you to have legal representation on your behalf. You will be able to cut your legal costs substantially only if you are able to understand all the legal requirements for conducting a family dispute yourself. Sometimes, this may also lead to delays in your case as you may not assist the court as efficiently by as a lawyer. Family courts have shown immense patience in handling such situations and have assisted the parties to deal with their matters themselves. To avoid unnecessary delays the Family courts have strongly recommended professional support in dealing with the family court matters for early disposal of cases. Legal aid services also provide necessary support to eligible parties in family court cases to this effect.

A dedicated family law solicitor deals only with family law and such related work. The parties in family court cases instructing a dedicated family law solicitor would have direct advantage of engaging with such a specialist solicitor. A family law solicitor can evaluate the position of the client through his expertise and experience. Having dealt with many similar matters, the expert Lawyer would convey a clear desired outcome for his client. A family solicitor understands all the details involved in family court matters such as family wealth and finance management, child or children custody and matrimonial property issues. A dedicated family law solicitor is often preferred to gain position in Family Dispute Resolution and Children Panel boards which are regulatory by statutory legislation.   This is often the case due to their longstanding professional experience and deep insight over the sensitive and emotional issues involved in a family law matters.

 

Barristers

A barrister is an expert legal professional representing a client before the court of law.  The services offered by a barrister are often straightforward and are not comprehensive. Their areas of service are usually limited to professional representation, negotiation and providing direct legal advice.

divorce lawyer

Due to the nature of work barristers often do not offer complete litigation or dispute resolution services or deal with client monies. A barrister need not put in place the complex technical or sophisticated infrastructure or organisational set up to handle client matters. This work structure reduces their operational costs and makes them cost effective when compared with solicitors’ practice. Since January 2014, barristers are permitted to carry out litigation and dispute resolution work if they are able to establish proper organisational structure to meet client requirements.  Barristers now can be retained to represent, advise and correspond with other side and court.

A family barrister’s schedule of a week mostly consists of court visits and appearing before the court on behalf of the client. A barrister usually exhibits circumstantial skills in advocacy and a solicitor does most the case preparation including complex document management work as per case requirements. Barristers also usually depend on instructions and case briefs and document support work provided by a solicitor or solicitors firm.

Barristers are now gradually focusing more on their areas of expertise such as family court matters and are providing similar to that of a family solicitor or a family solicitors firm to provide their clients with an cost effective edge as a one stop shop..

 

Public access barristers

Bar Council Website provides the details of qualified “Public Access” barristers available for you to instruct directly in place of a solicitors or a solicitor firm.

Engaging a barrister via “Public Access” system would be more cost effective and saves you from hassles of searching and instructing two legal professionals for the same work. You need to ensure that the said barrister to be retained has sufficient experience resources and time to deal with the family court matter. A barrister appointed should be able to correspond with other side and attend to those in return efficiently.

Engaging a Public Access barrister is useful if you need to conduct a detailed analysis of the documentation and evidence and provide appropriate legal advice to you. A barrister may provide the legal advice in writing or in a personal meeting with you.

It is quite rare that for barristers to accept a family court matter directly, surpassing a solicitor’s intervention. However, while appointing a barrister directly it would be advisable to understand properly whether the barrister deals with the family dispute case in all aspects. This means whether his retainer would include advising you on the drawing out strategies for your case, case preparation, document management, case filing and other ancillary work such as child custody and dealing with matrimonial property disputes or litigation as otherwise just representing the matter at court of law.  Later in the case, you have to involve yourself in preparation of the case document and liaising with the other side and court and also instructing a solicitor to handle matrimonial property matter.

As the barristers are now permitted to take up litigation work type, they are also looking to offer services complimenting a family law matter. It is difficult to understand how a barristers would be able to transform their nature work into administrative and client support services platform effectively.

 

Legal Executives

A Legal Executive’s responsibilities often look similar to that of a solicitor.

Legal Executive is usually trained under the supervision of solicitors or barristers to support their work. Legal executives are regulated by ILEX Professional Standards (IPS) in England and Wales are authorised to represent client at the Family Court but can only confine their submission up to District Court levels. In case of appeals, a Legal Executive has to advise the client for appointment of a solicitor and or a barrister to represent before the court and conduct the matter.

 

Regulation & complaints

In England and Wales there are different regulatory bodies regulating the professional conduct of lawyers:

Solicitors – The Solicitors Regulation Authority

Barristers – The Bar Standards Board

Legal Executives –  ILEX Professional Standards (IPS)

 

The Legal Services Board is the main regulatory body for all legal professionals and are emphasising more on the operational methods of legal practices.

The Legal Services Ombudsman deals with client service grievances. .

 

Finding a lawyer

Several legal governing bodies have their websites providing details of their registered professionals. Similarly, the Bar Council, The Law Society and ILEX has their own secured website providing precise details of the qualified professionals registered with them showing the areas of their practices, languages they can speak, jurisdiction in which they carry out their work and all the important details of their practicing certificates.

For obtaining financial and legal assistance for you to pursue your family case you may refer to gov.uk. You can get precise details of eligibility conditions for entitlement for legal aid from this source.

Justice Website lists in particulars of aid providers within parties’ jurisdiction.

Details of solicitors who are members of Resolution can be found on their website. Your local court will not advertise solicitors or banisters but may have leaflets telling you about local Law Clinics or free advice and support services in your community.

You should research into all your resources to know the actual value your property shared with your partner or the assets accumulated with your financial support before separation. You may have to contact real estate agents, family and other friends to this effect.

 

Choosing a lawyer

It is imperative to ensure that the legal professional’s assistance you are seeking in your family case is sufficiently skilled, understands your requirements advises you properly. Sometimes, a solicitor or barrister may not be required in cases such as mutually consented matters. In such cases a lawyer or legal executive who is well versed with procedures would suffice. A legal professional who is an expert in handling Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedure and member of Resolution and Children Panel can be extremely suitable in such circumstances to settle the matters on a cost effective basis.

A member of Resolution and Children has to conscientiously follow code of practice dealings with family cases. Your lawyer has to handle your case with a proactive and productive approach and use his best endeavours to resolve the issues in favourable and cost effective manner.

For more information on this subject please visit our Legal Library.

 

Contact us to see how we can help you with your divorce

For more information on your options call our team on 0845 862 5001 or email mail@austinkemp.co.uk.

We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in London WC2N 4JF and Manchester M2 4PD. Please contact us for more details.

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06th October 2016

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