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familylawexpert
familylawexpert, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 311
Experience:  Substantial experience (14yrs +) in divorce, financial cases, cohabitation, pre-nuptial agreements and civil partnerships.
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I would like some advice in regard to current proceedings.I

Resolved Question:

I would like some advice in regard to current proceedings.
I am now divorced earlier this year but am still in process of trying to sort out financial matters. I am due to attend court on July 2nd for second FDR hearing and am very hopeful a negotiation can be reached without a final hearing. My issue is I am not happy with the level of service I am receiving from my solicitor, Before appointing her I spend a considerable amount of time researching and she is head of family law in firm so am extremely disappointed that I am in this position. I work as a child protection social work and through my job know she is acting for some high profile case and feel she does not have time for my case. She has told me she is unable to attend court on the 2nd July due to child care proceeding this hearing has been relisted on two previous occasions and each time she has told me she is unable to attend. So in affect this is the third time her diary has been such that she has been unable to commit to me. Obviously when you need your solicitor most is in court and I feel very let down. I have also had to constantly chase up information which has led to considerable delay. This has led to conflict and tension with my ex husband who understandably feels it is me being obstructive and difficult. This has made the prospect of negotiation appear less and less likely. I have been told by my solicitor she will arrange counsel for the day I think i am right in saying this will be a barrister. I am anxious they will not know my case and I will incur extra costs. I have considered changing solicitors but as this late stage would this be advisable ? Should I now deal with this person instead of my solicitor as I would like to meet before court and ask negotiations to start or would this still be my solicitor. I feel I have lost all confidence in her and am in a real dilemma as to what I should do. Please can you advice how can I ensure that counsel is someone I feel confident with and what can I ask to ensure this. I have already written a letter to my solicitor outlining concerns and was assured my case would be reviewed weekly this has not happened,
On another note proceedings have been dragging on for over a year and in that time my son has reached eighteen will this have an effect on the split of finances. My husband earns double what I do and lives with his Girlfriend. Also can I ask for maintenance for my son who is attending Uni this year. I understand some provision can be made for this. His Father has said he will voluntarily pay him but I am not confident this will happen and I understand the availability of loans etc is not an argument against an order being made.
Thank you for your assistance.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  familylawexpert replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

My name is Mac. I can help you with your questions.

I can understand that you are disappointed with your solicitor - it sounds like a poor level of service. There is time for you to change solicitors if you do it in the next week.

However, it is not unusual for people to go to an FDR with a barrister (which is the same as "Counsel"). I would suggest that you agree to use a barrister, and insist on a barrister that you can have a conference with at least two weeks before the hearing, both so that you can meet the barrister and make sure you are happy with him/her, as well as get the barrister's advice on any more proposals that you should be making before the hearing.

There are many good barristers out there. Be specific in your questions to your solicitor about her suggested barrister(s), including how many years qualified they are, and how many times she has used them in financial cases in the last three (say) years.

If you don't settle at the FDR, I would sack your solicitor and move on immediately - so that you're not still with the same poor service in the run-up to a final hearing (although most cases don't get that far).

You can ask for some provision from the Court to reflect the fact that your son is at university. The fact that he is 18 rather than 17 is unlikely to have a direct effect on your financial claim.

I hope that is helpful.
Mac.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

 

Hi Marc,

 

Thank you for your response can I just clarify a few points.

 

Does counsel definately mean I will get a barrister or could this be another solicitor ?

I have been told by my my solicitor "there should be no prejudicial impact to you in relation to costs" Would a barrister not cost considerably more than my solicitor's costs ? Or is this in veiw of the fact she is unable to charge more as she is unable to attend.

I have been thinking of actually putting in a formal complaint and would like your advice on how much is it the norm your solicitor is unable to attend court with you. Is it my solicitor's reposnsibilty to fully inform counsel of my case. I agree it would make sense to meet he/she before but would not want to waste time going over my case. but use this time to look at negotiations.

 

Im unclear what some provison from the court means in regard to my last question about my ex husband financially supporting my son at Uni. Would a order be made to Jacob directly as he is 18.

 

Lastly if im in the situation of needing to sack my solicitor where can I research a good new one as I felt I did this the first time round. Do some deal only in divorce and financial matters rather then also child care proceeding as i do feel my case will continue to be bottom of the pile when solicitors are dealing with high profile child care proceedings. Also given my job i do not want to end up in a situation where I have done with my present solicitor where she was representing Mum in a case and I was the social worker. I told her this was a conflict of interest and had to get my manager involved before she agreed.

 

Kind regards

Sarah

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Marc,


 


Thank you for your response can I just clarify a few points.


 


Does counsel definately mean I will get a barrister or could this be another solicitor ?


I have been told by my my solicitor "there should be no prejudicial impact to you in relation to costs" Would a barrister not cost considerably more than my solicitor's costs ? Or is this in veiw of the fact she is unable to charge more as she is unable to attend.


I have been thinking of actually putting in a formal complaint and would like your advice on how much is it the norm your solicitor is unable to attend court with you. Is it my solicitor's reposnsibilty to fully inform counsel of my case. I agree it would make sense to meet he/she before but would not want to waste time going over my case. but use this time to look at negotiations.


 


Im unclear what some provison from the court means in regard to my last question about my ex husband financially supporting my son at Uni. Would a order be made to Jacob directly as he is 18.


 


Lastly if im in the situation of needing to sack my solicitor where can I research a good new one as I felt I did this the first time round. Do some deal only in divorce and financial matters rather then also child care proceeding as i do feel my case will continue to be bottom of the pile when solicitors are dealing with high profile child care proceedings. Also given my job i do not want to end up in a situation where I have done with my present solicitor where she was representing Mum in a case and I was the social worker. I told her this was a conflict of interest and had to get my manager involved before she agreed.


 


Kind regards


Sarah

Expert:  familylawexpert replied 3 years ago.
Hello Sarah,

Counsel is another word for barrister.

Using a barrister does not automatically mean it is more expensive. They base their charges on an hourly rate - you could ask your solicitor to tell you what the barristers hourly rate is, and compare it to the solicitor. There is a slight overlap for reading in for the barrister, but it should not be huge.

I doubt that a complaint would go anywhere, so I wouldn't waste your time with it.

An order from the court could mean increased provision for you, or an undertaking recorded in the order from him that he will pay £X to your son. It is an FDR, so anything is possible if you agree it, just make sure it is recorded in the final agreement/order.

Some solicitors do indeed specialise in financial cases more than children cases. You could start by asking them, and looking on their website at what they say. Alternatively, you could go to the Resolution website (below), which is the family lawyers' association, and search for a family solicitor near you who has a financial accreditation.
http://www.resolution.org.uk/findamember/

Kind regards,
Mac.
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