How to get legal advice when you represent yourself in proceedings following a separation or a divorce, to reach a financial settlement.
If you cannot afford full legal representation, have the time to undertake some of the administrative tasks yourself or, you are choosing to represent yourself and need occasional legal advice on the preparation of specific documents, we can discuss whether your matter is suitable for a Limited Retainer agreement with us.
Under our Limited Retainer agreement, we can provide you with legal advice on a specific issue or a discrete task. This can also be known as “unbundling” legal services. We cannot engage in correspondence with the court, your former partner or spouse (or their solicitor) or any other 3rd party connected with your matter. You are still responsible for and in control of how much correspondence is written, the negotiations that are undertaken, complying with the court directions and attending all meetings and court hearings. It is only when we act for you under full legal representation that we would do all of these tasks for you.
What type of legal advice can you receive under a Limited Retainer in proceedings for a Financial Settlement?
We can help you to:
- Prepare your financial statement (Form E), in particular, your schedule of expenses so that you can strengthen or weaken a claim for maintenance. Part of this form asks you for narrative details about the financial circumstances of your marriage and your contributions and needs. In these parts it is important to focus upon the relevant issues to achieve the best financial outcome for you, as the Form E is the cornerstone of your case.
- Collate and bind together your financial documents to be disclosed to your spouse so that you avoid delays with missing documents or being prejudiced by misinterpreting which documents need to be disclosed and need further explanations.
- Draft a letter of instruction to an expert to value a property, business or pension and if relevant, your spouse’s interest in those assets. You need to make sure your interest in those assets is not being undervalued (or overvalued) or your spouse’s interest is not overvalued which can be to your disadvantage too.
- Identify suitable housing particulars for you and your spouse to present to the court to support your financial proposals. How you present your housing needs will determine how effectively you will be able to negotiate and reach a settlement. One of the factors the court can take into account is your reasonable housing needs and this can determine the amount of capital you or your spouse will receive.
- Draft or advise you upon the final order to record your agreement or the judge’s decision. In a financial matter the drafting of these documents is not straightforward and unfamiliar terms will be used. Even though a financial order records the agreement, it may not be drafted to ensure enforcement to your benefit or it could be unnecessarily to your disadvantage. Getting legal advice on these documents helps to prevent delays in implementing a financial order or further court proceedings over the interpretation and enforcement of these orders.
We can only assist and advise you upon completing the above tasks based upon the documents and information that is provided to us. Under a Limited Retainer we cannot advise you upon the overall success and strategy of your application, as we would be able to do if we represented you fully. Also, under a Limited Retainer we may not be able to advise you if there is insufficient time for us to complete the task but if we represent you, then we would manage the timings for the completion of the tasks for you. It is, therefore, important to involve us with plenty of time and to give us full information.
When should I consider getting some legal advice?
If you cannot afford full legal representation, have the time to undertake some of the administrative tasks yourself or, you are choosing to represent yourself and need occasional advice on the preparation of specific documents, we can discuss whether your matter is suitable for a Limited Retainer agreement with us.
We can accept instructions at any time throughout the process whilst you are in mediation, arbitration and court proceedings. Ideally, you should discuss this with us at the start of your matter before you decide which process you would like to use. Then we can help you budget for your legal support and to avoid any delays in the process to reach a conclusion.
Use the free and confidential link on our website www.helenpidgeonsolicitors.com to obtain more information about your situation or, contact us by telephone +44 (0) 203 585 2576 / +44 (0) 07833 228181 or email [email protected] for a free 15 minute initial discussion to see how we can help you. We offer initial fixed fee appointments during which we can give you legal advice about your options and possible outcomes. Helen Pidgeon Solicitors specialise in all aspects of family law and offer mediation and the collaborative practice.
References in this article to divorce proceedings also apply to the dissolution of a civil partnership save as otherwise stated.