Family Lawyer and Accredited Family Mediator, Sarah Jackson, considers who best to consult when considering a divorce.
To discuss any aspect of Divorce, Family Law or Mediation, our Family Law Team is available on 01225 462871. Alternatively, you can contact them by email.
Whether to use a lawyer or mediator to sort out your separation, is an important decision; getting it right can save you time, money and emotional upheaval.
Each has a different role and will take you through a very different process.
The role of a family lawyer is to act in the best interests of just one spouse; to advise them with a view to getting the best possible deal for that individual.
If you instruct a lawyer, they will correspond with your spouse, or your spouse’s lawyer if they instruct one, on your behalf with a view to obtaining full disclosure and negotiating a settlement.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the lawyer will advise you to issue court proceedings so that the court can make a decision for you. You will then need to comply with a court timetable for providing disclosure and attendance at court hearings.
A mediator is a neutral third party who, during the mediation process, will assist both spouses equally; a mediator cannot ‘advise’ but can give impartial legal information to assist a couple to reach the best solution for the family as a whole.
Is mediation legally binding?
At the end of the mediation process, the mediator will provide you with a summary document setting out your proposals so that you can take this to a lawyer to convert into a legally binding agreement in the form of a financial consent order or a separation agreement.
Is a mediator also a lawyer?
I am both a mediator and a specialist family lawyer. As such, I am well placed to assist you to reach solutions that are capable of being converted into a financial consent order or separation agreement. I am also able to assess if financial experts need to be involved and can pull them into the process as and when required. However, not all mediators have a legal background.
When is a divorce lawyer likely to be the best option?
You are going to need a lawyer:
- If there is a concern for your safety or your children’s safety.
- If you need advice urgently – i.e. if delay in obtaining legal advice will worsen your circumstances.
- If you and your spouse have already reached an agreement – in which case one of our divorce lawyers can advise you as to whether what is being proposed is reasonable and, if appropriate, can convert your proposal into a legally binding agreement.
- If your spouse is unwilling to mediate.