Can we just have one solicitor for our divorce?
For all of my career until now, the answer has basically been no but now, thanks to Resolution Together, I am able to offer a new service launched by Resolution in 2022.
Quite frequently over the past 30 years, someone separating has phoned my office saying that they and their ex-partner would like to come to see me together to sort out the consequences of their separation. They are amicable and want to be open and transparent. Why can’t they just meet the same lawyer? The traditional answer has been that I can’t see them both together because there is a potential conflict of interest. But I have often thought that this approach runs the risk of putting amicable couples in opposition to each other.
When speaking to one spouse, I know exactly what I would say to the other spouse. In some cases, where couples are not able to talk to each other amicably, being able to see things from both sides is an essential negotiation technique. In other cases, the person in front of me will go straight home and tell their ex-half what I have told them. Isn’t it better in those circumstances simply to have both halves in front of me so that I can advise them at the same time?
Now I can.
I can be one lawyer advising two clients who are separating.
I am the first solicitor in the Stoke on Trent Newcastle under Lyme and Crewe area, (possibly even the first in Staffordshire and Cheshire) to offer this new service.
In January 2000, I was one of the first three lawyers in Staffordshire to qualify as Accredited Specialists with Resolution. Now I am excited about being the first local lawyer to offer the new service launched by Resolution in 2022.
Resolution is an organisation of lawyers and other professionals who specialise in family law. In 2022 they launched a new model of working called Resolution Together. The model is consistent with all current regulations laid down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority whilst enabling experienced family specialists to act for both parties to a separation. I have attended the training necessary to be compliant with this new model and therefore use the documents that Resolution have provided to ensure that both of my clients’ interests are protected.
For family lawyers, this is a radical departure from how we have always dealt with divorce and separation. However, I hope that before too long, working for two clients at once shall become the norm. I think that some less experienced lawyers may find the change in practice more difficult than our clients. Those who want to work amicably together will wonder why we have never offered this service before. I certainly have often wished over the past 30 years that I could advise both halves of the couple, not just one.
It will still be the case that lawyers will never meet many of the couples who are completely amicable, especially those who are not married. Many who want to work things out with as little cost and argument as possible will decide to avoid going to a lawyer because of the fear that contacting a lawyer will drive a wedge between them. The risk is that they will make mistakes or miss things out, causing more problems in the long run. It will be so much better for those couples to use one lawyer to help them sort everything out properly.
Of course there are many couples who are separating exactly because they cannot work together. I will not act for both halves of a couple where there is domestic abuse or risk of harm to a child. I have decades of experience of using the legal system to stand up for my clients so they achieve a fair outcome. My 5 star reviews on Review Solicitors speak for themselves. Since starting work as a family lawyer in 1992, I have been committed to the Resolution Code of Practice. My colleagues and I will put your interests and those of your family first and will tailor the service we provide to you specifically to your circumstances.
Phone 01782 627589 for free initial telephone advice.
About the Author
Ann McCabe has always specialised in family law, qualifying as a solicitor in London in 1993, before moving to live in Stoke on Trent and bring up her family in 1994. She became a Resolution Accredited Specialist in 2000 (one of the first three in Staffordshire). She set up her own firm specialising in family law in 2016. She is committed to preserving the best traditions of client service whilst embracing the advantages of modern technology to deliver that service efficiently. She is not afraid to be the first to adapt to change if that change is what is best for our clients and staff.