Articles

  • June 2017
    Ask not only what your solicitor can do for you - ask also what you can do for your solicitor (apologies to JFK!)


    Improving outcomes and containing costs

    It’s an unsettling time when you have relationship problems, made worse by financial uncertainty and concerns about your legal position.  Most people are worried about the cost of getting advice, but there are ways in which you can help to contain your costs allowing your solicitor to concentrate on their role – advice - whether that advice is about children or financial issues, or something else.

    The key to an efficient and effective relationship between solicitor and client is that each of us has things that we can do to help the other.

    What we can do for you:

    Advice on

    • Legal and financial aspects of the ending of a cohabitation, civil partnership or marriage: divorce or separation agreements
    • Legal and financial aspects at the start of a relationship: cohabitation agreements, pre-nuptial agreements and declarations of trust
    • Residence and contact issues relating to children, adoption and/or care proceedings, relocation of children when the parent with care moves away from the area
    • Change of name deeds
    • Wills

    Some issues such as emotional distress, housing issues or debt problems will be more effectively dealt with by other professionals. We’ll also try to point you in the direction of other advice agencies – counsellors, financial advisors, support organisations – when appropriate, as practically speaking, the services they offer complement our role, and they can help resolve all the other, non-legal, issues that may come into play.

    At Jackamans we are happy to try to control costs – after all each of us can only do so much work in a week – perhaps by taking on only certain aspects rather than all issues, perhaps by the client doing some of the preparatory work themselves.  

    Jackamans offers a free half hour to prospective new clients, in most circumstances, and a limited number of appointments outside working hours may be available.  We are able to offer legal aid, where there has been domestic abuse, and you meet the financial criteria (not required for care cases).

    What you can do for us

    The best way a client can help the solicitor to give the best advice as cost effectively as possible is to be prepared.

    • Make a detailed list of all the key facts: dates of birth of yourself and your partner, any children, the date the relationship started, the date of marriage/civil partnership, and other key dates.
    • Make a list of the issues that are concerning you and the questions that you want to ask.
    • If you want to know about financial arrangements, make sure that you list your income, property, liabilities, assets and pensions.  (However please note that it is not permissible to obtain your other half’s financial information without their agreement).
    • Bring someone along to support you if you think you won’t take everything in.
    • Keep good records, not only of financial documents but also of any important incidents that occur, as they may be relevant to any outcome.
    • Ask yourself whether an issue needs to be reported straight away or can be left to the next meeting or a combined letter dealing with several issues, rather than contacting us each and every time you are upset: that can add considerably to the costs.

    All of the family solicitors at Jackamans are members of Resolution and we do try to deal with your case with as little added conflict as possible.   You may think that we are not advising a tough enough approach but it is important, if the matter goes to Court, to be seen as behaving reasonably to the other side otherwise you may be at the receiving end of costs orders from the Court.

    We may also advise you to attend mediation.  Note however that mediation is best approached having already had advice about your own best interests so that you know what you are conceding in any mediation compromise, whether about your children or finances.

    Finally, most of the time arrangements are made by consent without any contested court battles, and that is the best outcome for everybody involved.

    For further information please contact Ruth Jenkins on 01473 255591 or by email to ruth.jenkins@jackamans.co.uk.

    This article provides only a general summary and is not intended to be comprehensive.  Special legal advice should be taken in any individual situation.

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