If you have never been caught up in a legal dispute, never been divorced or gone to court, then count yourself lucky. But if and when that day finally comes, a lack of experience can make it quite hard to compare solicitors, to find the good divorce lawyers and avoid the mediocre.
Last week we took a look at the best ways to find a quality family solicitor and try to ensure the best possible resolution to your divorce or dispute. If you are going through divorce or separation, you are very likely to be having a tough time and you will need all the help you can get. Fortunately, once you know what to look for, it is not difficult to compare solicitors and work out who is likely to offer the best service.
But what about the mediocre family lawyers and the half-hearted divorce solicitors? What are the best indications of poor service and unreliability? Watch out for these warning signs…
*The solicitor glances at the clock throughout your appointment. A good solicitor will care deeply about your case and will give it their all. They will listen to you. A self-important solicitor who regards you as just another job is unlikely to do their best for your case.
*The solicitor fobs you off when you enquire about costs. You will want to know about likely outcomes and costs, and you will want reassurance. If your solicitor cannot provide this advice and is reluctant to give you even a rough indication of costs, then should they really be advising you?
*The solicitor insists upon “voluntary disclosure” of assets as the way forward. They believe – usually wrongly – that this will preserve good relations between the parties. But we cannot agree. Voluntary disclosure has no ‘teeth’ and it shifts power away from the client. A party who is refusing to play ball and who wishes to drag out the negotiations need not make full disclosure because there is no court sanction for not doing so.
*The solicitor is arrogant and does not listen to you. Solicitors charge high rates and so of course you want to be sure you are getting value for money. If your solicitor is always flustered and waffles non-stop, what does that tell you? If you spend an hour with them and come away none the wiser about your case, that does not bode well. If your solicitor fails to clearly explain the options, does not ask you to think about what you really want and how you see your future, where you are going to live and what you are going to do, then there is a good chance the case will end with you unhappy. Sometimes what you want isn’t what the lawyer would advise, but if you know what you want, then say so. If you don’t have that type of relationship with your family solicitor, then he or she is not the lawyer for you.