Family solicitors have had their fair share of attention in the world of Hollywood and television dramas. And while many of us enjoy a dramatic court-room scene on our TV screens, they’ve done nothing to correct the preconceptions about the profession that are already in existence.
In this week’s blog, we’re bringing things back to reality, and debunking some of the myths around what being a family solicitor is all about.
Solicitors always want to go to court
Let’s start with one of the most common assumptions, and one that quite simply isn’t true. For family solicitors, going to court isn’t a foregone conclusion. Of course, if that’s the most appropriate path for a particular client, then that’s what we’ll do. But the decision is never taken without first considering the other options available.
For example, mediation or negotiations between solicitors may be a better option for a divorcing couple going through a financial settlement or deciding on the arrangements for the children.
At Harrogate Family Law, we always aim to keep matters out of court where possible, but ultimately it’s about finding the best route for each individual case. In some instances, that will mean an application to court, in others it won’t.
Family solicitors can act for both sides
Even if both spouses have reached an agreement, even if they’re on ‘good terms’ and deem theirs to be an ‘amicable divorce’, a family solicitor can never act for both sides. Doing so would be a conflict of interest, and simply isn’t allowed. That’s because your solicitor is looking to protect you financially and ensure your needs are met. To achieve that, you might need more than your ex. Family law is very discretionary and there is a range of fair outcomes. Some of which will favour one spouse over the other.
Think about a situation where one spouse has a substantial income and the other perhaps only works part-time around their care commitments to the children. The financially weaker spouse has a lower earning capacity and a lower mortgage capacity. They might need a larger deposit to be able to afford a suitable house and may need maintenance from their ex to be able to afford their expenditure. Each spouse is likely to have very different views about the level of housing and the amount of maintenance the financially weaker spouse needs.
When it comes to family law discussions and proceedings, each spouse or partner should always seek independent legal advice to ensure that their best interests are being considered. Bear in mind that your ex could be trying to make you feel bad about seeking legal advice to put pressure on you to agree to an unfair settlement in their favour.
They’ll lie to get ahead for their clients
Lying on behalf of clients would be professional misconduct. Any solicitor who does so risks losing their job, and facing legal consequences. It’s as simple as that.
As an Officer of the Court, family solicitors are not allowed to lie, mislead or hide information from the Court, even if it would advance their client’s case. The rules around this are very clear, very strict and must be followed to the letter.
Family solicitors make a bad situation worse
On the contrary, it’s quite the opposite. Getting a solicitor sooner rather than later is a classic case of prevention being better than the cure.
Having a solicitor as early on in the process as possible means that clients have the advice they need from the very start, and can more easily be prepared for the road ahead. In the majority of cases, this can make the process smoother, more efficient and more likely to get an outcome that works for clients. If you know what you are entitled to and what protections you need, it’s going to be much easier and quicker to reach an agreement.
The trouble with myths and preconceptions about family law is that it can stop clients who need advice from seeking it. This can be really damaging when it comes to getting the outcome they deserve. It’s always better to seek expert advice from a solicitor. Without it, misinformed decisions are made and the future very often doesn’t look as bright as it should.
Having experts on your side can make all the difference. We’re here to be that support. Get in touch with us today to find out more about how we can help.