Solicitors provide individual advice about your legal rights and obligations. They can tell you where you stand in relation to particular issues and advise you if urgent action needs to be taken. Some of the problems which arise when a relationship breaks down can be very complex. Your solicitor will focus on protecting your interests and trying to help you reach a fair agreement.
The fact that you consult a solicitor does not mean that you will necessarily have to go to court. Solicitors often refer clients to other professionals or organisations who can help them in particular circumstances, such as counsellors, therapists or family mediators.
If your case does go to court your solicitor will represent you or arrange for another solicitor or barrister to do this.
How to find a family law solicitor
- Your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau will probably have a list of solicitors in your area who practice family law.
- The Resolution website finds solicitors who are members of Resolution, an organisation of solicitors specialising in family law.
- The Community Legal Service website finds solicitors who practice family law and provide legal aid.
- The Law Society website gives details of family law solicitors local to you.
If you want to instruct one of the leading lawyers in the field, consult one of the well known legal directories:
Chambers UK – a client’s Guide to the Legal Profession published by Chambers and Partners
Contacting a solicitor
When you telephone to arrange an appointment to see a solicitor it is a good idea to give a brief outline of your circumstances. For example, say that you want a divorce, or that your relationship with your partner has ended, or your child has been placed for adoption, or whatever it is.
Make sure that the person you will be seeing does that sort of work. You should also ask about the solicitor’s charges. Find out whether the firm undertakes publicly funded work (Legal Aid), if you are on a low income.
Otherwise, you should ask about the hourly charging rate of the solicitor you will be seeing, because most solicitors charge for all the time spent on your case at a set hourly rate.
Barristers represent people in court. They also sometimes give advice to solicitors and their clients about particularly difficult or complex areas of the law, or the way in which a court would be likely to approach a particular issue. You cannot consult a barrister directly, only through a solicitor. They only get involved in a case when a solicitor decides that their particular expertise is needed or if you go to court.
Law Centres give a free and independent professional legal service to people who live or work in their areas. You can find out if there is a Law Centre in your area. Not all Law Centres deal with all types of family law.