Family Law AssociationThe Law Society of Scotland
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Choosing The Right Family Lawyer

Divorcing exerts a strain both personally and financially upon you. Therefore, it is important to find an experienced and sympathetic law firm like Jones Whyte  to help you through this difficult period.

Whether you require assistance with a divorce & separation, child protection, appeals or any other area of family law it is necessary to consider a number of factors such as costs involved, the firm’s reputation as well as their ability to represent your best interests.

The following article will explain the factors each individual should consider prior to deciding who the right family lawyer for them is.

What will your solicitor’s fees be?

Choosing the right family lawyer

Instructing a solicitor to represent you in a legal issue is a stressful experience. Often this may be the first time you have had to instruct a solicitor and sometimes not being prepared for the additional expense, can lead to concerns about how much solicitors charge.

Solicitor fees can either be fixed or work in progress based. Depending on the type of service you will require, and the predicted workl involved, will determine what the potential legal costs may be. A family solicitor will provide you with either a fixed fee or an hourly rate.

Due to the fact that there are a lot of firms around Scotland who offer family law services, solicitors try to stay competitive to ensure they attract more business. That being said however, it is necessary to consider the value of the service you are likely to receive for a lower cost and how effective your case handler is likely to be. It is crucial to be aware of the fact that in some circumstances a law firm might provide you with a very low and unrealistic quote simply to ensure that they will gain work for the firm.

When comparing hourly rates and quotes, it is important to remember that the lower the fee payable, the bigger the likelihood that the work will be carried out by a paralegal or an assistant. It is therefore important to ask questions and have a full understanding of what you will get for your money.

Who will be your case handler?

It is very important to know who exactly will undertake the work in your case as well as who your main point of contact will be. As mentioned above, some solicitors will offer a cheaper service, but will delegate the workload to a trainee solicitor or to junior member of staff and might have very little input in it. Speaking to the solicitor to ensure that they will manage your case from start to finish is very important. It will allow you to have a good understanding of how your case will be managed and who will keep you updated on the progress made in the case as well as how often.

How long has the solicitor been qualified for?

This might be a little controversial, but it might be reasonable to consider how long the solicitor has been qualified for. Although, a newly qualified solicitor has the ability to manage your legal problem to a high standard, you may be more comfortable with a more experienced case handler. Having confidence in your solicitor is crucial and therefore having the knowledge of whether your solicitor is experienced in dealing with legal matters like yours can certainly provide you with peace of mind.

Do they specialise in Family Law?

Family law is not like any other area of law and therefore a solicitor who specialises in this area will be experienced and capable of handling your case to a high standard. We know that no two family cases are the same. However, practicing in this area on a day-to-day basis in means that your solicitor would be very likely to have come across a case with similar circumstances to yours, will be able to adapt to novel situations and apply their knowledge and experience to your case and individual circumstances.

Are they an accredited solicitor?

Solicitors are accredited in an area of law through demonstration of knowledge and skills to a relevant regulatory body. Instructing an accredited solicitor, who has participated in an accreditation scheme, will give you confidence that a specialist is dealing with your case.

Are they a Mediator?

Although mediation is a different procedure to legal representation, it equips solicitors with valuable additional skills. It helps a solicitor identify whether there is any chance, if possible in your individual circumstances, to resolve your legal issues with a mediator, thus avoiding the need to go to court. If so, they will be in a position to refer you to a respected and reputable mediator and at the same time guide you throughout the procedure to ensure that you get best out of the process.

Is the firm respected?

It is important to ensure that you instruct a firm that cares about treating you as an individual and not simply another client.  You want to ensure that a firm you instruct will not only portray you as a business opportunity but a person who requires a knowledgeable and skillful solicitor who can help them during a difficult and stressful time.

Consider also reviewing the firm’s website for client testimonials as these will allow you to get a better understanding of what the firms values are. In addition to this, you will be in a position to determine whether previous clients have been satisfied with the service they received from the firm, helping you make an informed decision.

What options will your solicitor present you with?

How your solicitor proposes to resolve your case is very important because court proceedings in family law cases should be the very last resort. Litigation is not only very expensive but also uncertain. Although sometimes there is no other alternative means of resolving  the legal issue, it is essential to make sure your solicitor presents you with the best options to resolve your problem.

Litigation

In order to resolve matters, in certain circumstances, it will be necessary to do so with the involvement of the court. Your solicitor will be in a position to assess your individual circumstances and advise you whether it is necessary and appropriate to raise a Court action.

Alternative options

Prior to entering into court proceedings, your solicitor should be in a position to discuss your case with you in order to explore all alternative ways capable of resolving your legal dispute. There are a number of potential options and depending on your individual circumstances, a solicitor will highlight the most suitable way to cater to your personal needs.

Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary alternative resolution process. This method of dispute resolution is very effective in family disputes where children or complicated financial matters are involved. It is very popular as it can speed up the process of resolving the matters in an efficient manner and to some extent allows the possibility of working towards preserving communication between parties involved.

The process of mediation involves meeting with a trained and neutral mediator. Mediators are generally members of CALM Scotland who have completed extensive training and therefore are capable of assisting individuals with reaching an outcome that will resolve problems and reach the best possible agreement.

It is important to note that during the mediation process, both parties must be open-minded and willing to consider imaginative solutions to the issues.

Arbitration

Arbitration is another method of alternative dispute resolution. It is a private, legal process aimed to resolve disputes out with the courts. Either one or more persons (the arbitrator) depending on the circumstances decide the outcome of the dispute. The arbitrator is always an independent third party who has no connections to the parties or to the case.

At the outset, both parties must agree to abide by the arbitrator’s decision.  Having heard the evidence presented by both of the parties, the arbitrator will ask various questions in relation to the dispute.  Following this, the arbitrator will make an independent and impartial decision. The decision is known as the award and both parties agree to bind themselves by the outcome.

Collaboration

The process of collaboration focuses on ensuring that conflicts as well as emotional distress during a separation will be minimized as much as they can be.

During the process, both parties as well as their solicitors will attend structured meetings, which will aim to resolve the dispute over financial matter and child related issues.

Solicitors who specialize in the process of collaboration are usually members of organisations such as International Academy of Collaborative Lawyers as well as Consensus Scotland. This ensures they are able to draw upon their previous experiences of collaboration to ensure you make your decisions based upon your children’s as well as your own welfare needs.

There are numerous factors you should consider before choosing a family lawyer such as their reputation, fees, and potential proposals on how to resolve the dispute. Ensuring that you instruct a reputable and reliable solicitor who can provide advice on your rights in relation to your children as well as your property is essential., Consideration  of the factors mentioned above will allow you to make an informed decision.

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