Working with couples and individuals

For couples who know what they want
but not how to get it!

Neutral legal information and assessment of proposals

Suitable for people who trust each other, who are comfortable that they understand their financial circumstances and who want open and honest discussions. Ideal for couples who want or need an on-going relationship. This can be provided by the lawyer alone, or in partnership with a neutral financial advisor, professional coach and or counsellors. Sessions are customised to the individuals concerned.

Restorative mediation

Suitable for people who want to have the best relationship they can after separation. Ideal where one or both feels they have not been heard and where communication is difficult without help from others and where there is a willingness to try and find a way forward. This is a team approach with a restorative mediation professional, as well as a neutral lawyer. Other neutral professionals (such as pensions or financial advisors or mediators) can form part of the team supporting the couple, depending on individual needs.

Legal documentation

This is a transaction only service. Documents are drafted, according to the needs of the clients. Separate legal advice is not given. However if there are issues that may not have been considered, these will be highlighted so that one or both is able to take independent advice. This can include submission of papers to court either as an individual document or as a series (for example all documents required in the divorce process).

We reserve the right to decline to act for more than one individual where there is a conflict of interest, both clients are not in full possession of information and facts or where the risk assessment indicates a joint approach is not suitable. If this happens, we will suggest alternative ways to resolve issues and sign post individuals to suitable services.

Services For Individuals

Preparation of one or more documents

Suitable for people who do not want, or cannot afford to retain a lawyer to deal with processes “end to end” but who may need advice about one or more issues and help in preparing statements, agreements or court documents.

Pay as you go

Suitable for people who need to keep a tight rein on their budget and who know and understand whatever process they are involved in. Meetings and documents need to be paid for at the time the work is booked. This is not always a cost effective way of dealing with complicated issues, as there may need to be time spent in understanding what has happened in the time between pieces of work being done (it is easy to overlook important information).

Traditional lawyer guided processes

Suitable for clients who do not want to deal with their ex, or their ex’s lawyers. Sometimes, this is because a client cannot cope with the changes going on in their lives, or they need a “buffer” because communication has become too difficult to deal with. Sometimes it will be because the situation is complicated. It helps to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and are able to hear advice you are given. It is important to understand what is being done on your behalf and why.

Lawyer supported mediation

Suitable for clients who want to be able to reach their own agreements, but who need help to do this. Trained mediators will help you to review information, hear each other’s point of view and come to a consensus about what should happen. Having your lawyer present during discussions, or advising during the mediation process ensures that you are aware of the legal issues and implications of your agreements. It also helps the lawyers to be aware of the reasons why decisions are made and to draft the legal documentation you will need to make your agreements binding.

Collaborative process

Trained collaborative lawyers help their clients to identify common interests and to build solutions around those interests. Ideal for couples who prefer to have separate legal advice, but where there is still a degree of trust and where they want or need a good on-going relationship (for example because they have children, or where there is a family business). Neutral third parties can be brought in to assist with particular issues, such as assessment of financial options, children’s wishes and feelings or specialist areas like pensions and financial planning.

Customised solutions

Suitable for individuals with particular concerns or complicated issues. Professionals from different backgrounds will work as a team to advise and support the client, enabling them to access specialist expertise (e.g. from a life coach, financial advisor, mediator, restorative practitioner, lawyer etc.). The team shares information to stream line processes and provide clients with best advice in a most cost-effective way. This enables clients to consider different financial and practical options at an early stage, before decisions have been made about what should happen. Ideal for those who do not feel comfortable dealing with specific areas of their lives, who would not normally consider using a coach, mediator or financial advisor etc. because of cost and inconvenience, or lack of trusted contacts, but who can see the value in getting best advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have heard that going to court will cost me thousands.

Sometimes lawyers will give ball park estimates about how much it can cost to go to court, which look and sound really scary. However those figures are usually based on worst case scenarios and are also intended to make people stop and think about what they are about to do. Most cases can be broken down into much smaller pieces and it will usually be possible to reduce the costs and spread them so that they are affordable. Remember lawyers are specialists, with years of training, and they know the ins and outs of the law, as well as how to deal with courts and other solicitors.

I have been to a lawyer for a free half hour. Why do you charge for your initial meetings?

Most people will give a quick view about problems (like the plumber giving you their opinion over the phone before they come out and look at what is needed) and I am just the same. However, my experience has taught me that it is more useful to arrange a face to face meeting with new clients, to collect all of the information I know I am going to need and to draw up a plan of action with them. Then we can break down problems into smaller parts, prioritise them and work out what the costs could be to deal with them. I can also arrange for someone else to come and help at an early stage, whether that is to generate ideas and options for dealing with finances, or arrange specialist support for people struggling to deal with their emotions. To do that properly takes a bit longer than half an hour!

I have heard about collaborative practice and would like to know what makes it different from other ways of dealing with a separation/divorce.

In collaborative practice, your lawyers are trained to support you and to help you focus on the interests of everyone involved. Where there are children in the family, they would be at the heart of the discussions about how to make sure everyone is able to move forward. As well as working as a team, other professionals can be brought in, to provide advice and specialist support for one or both of you. What makes it a unique way to work is that clients and lawyers sign a contract, in which they commit to working together to find solutions, rather than using the courts as a means of forcing a resolution of issues. In the unusual cases where no agreement can be reached, then the lawyers need to stop acting for their clients, who then need to instruct someone else to take things forward.

I am worried that my ex will not be honest about their finances and will try to hide money. They have also told me that the court will believe them and not me, because they have a good job and know people in the community.

This is a common fear for many people, especially when they have not had access to information about family finances or have not been involved in family decision making. Family lawyers and courts are all very used to dealing with people in your situation. The court rules are very clear about the information that has to be provided to the court and shared with the other person. If information is not provided, or has large holes in it, there are sanctions that can be used as well. Those sanctions apply to everyone, so even if your ex thinks they can get away with hiding things, or withholding information, that is not acceptable. We are also used to dealing with people who are unsure about what they are doing and part of our job is to explain and make sure you can make well informed decisions.

My partner and I know what we want to do and want to deal with just one lawyer. Can we do that?

Yes, of course you can. As long as there is no conflict of interest between you, I am happy to deal with both of you. You need to be comfortable sharing information and willing to have open and honest discussions, focussing on what you each need, rather than what you think you are entitled to. This can work especially well when you are in business together and want to go on working together and where you have children and want to make sure they see you working together to deal with your separation.

You say that you work as part of a team. How do you do that and does that mean it costs me double?

I have built up an extensive network of people I trust to work with my clients. Traditionally lawyers will refer clients to financial advisors, mortgage advisors, therapists and counsellors and so on, but they can’t always follow up on the referrals to make sure that help has been accessed or the right information has been exchanged. I prefer to work with people in the same room as me, with my clients. That means that we can talk to each other about exactly what is needed and make sure we all understand each other. That cuts down on poor communication and speeds up the exchange of information. I charge for the legal services I provide and, depending on what is needed, the other professionals charge for their services, but as we are cutting down on delays and making sure communication is clear, we can provide a better and more cost-effective service, than if we deal with issues in isolation. We can also make sure that our clients are fully involved and understand what is going on and why. That tends to cut down on costs for my clients, rather than increase them and the money is used to buy best advice from specialists.

Find us at:

Elizabeth House,
28 Baddow Road,
Chelmsford,
Essex CM2 0DG

info@essexfamilylaw.co.uk

www.essexfamilylaw.co.uk

+44 (0)1245 206780

07704 982770