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What are we each entitled to in our divorce settlement?

What does the law say about how to split the house, how to share pensions and other assets, and how much maintenance is payable.

What steps can we take to reach a fair agreement?

The four basic steps to reaching an agreement on divorce finances are: disclosure, getting advice, negotiating and implementing a Consent Order.

What is a Consent Order and why do we need one?

A Consent Order is a legally binding document that finalises a divorcing couple's agreement on property, pensions and other assets.


Do you need help sorting out a fair financial settlement?

Our consultant service offers expert advice and support to help you reach agreement on a fair financial settlement quickly, and for less than a quarter of the cost of using a traditional high street solicitor.


\"THE GRAVY TRAIN\" (FAMILY LAW PROCESS)

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03 Jun 11 #271335 by pixy
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well in my case two probably were quite close if thought of in percentage terms The third was probably just the sort of solicitor people complain about, ready to fight tooth and nail to protect every asset from stbx. I could practically see the £ signs in her eyes ....

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04 Jun 11 #271468 by .Charles
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Foppish wrote:

Charles: any self employed person has the same overheads etc - some have far more in fact because there are more "materials" for their trade, and 40K is average for any professional training - most of the professions won't see near 250 an hour - again this isn't to say that you don't earn your cash, or couldn't earn more cash elesewhere, but it is a bank-breaking system to the vast majority of divorcing people at a time in their lives when
a) they can least afford it, b) are least able to see the wood for the trees emotionally and c) least able to communicate with the person they have to come to an agreement with.


Actually, you will find that there are very few self employed people who have the same overheads as a solicitor. Professional indemnity insurance is hefty as insurers have to cover ‘possible’ claims. A plumber may pay a few hundred pounds a years, a scaffolder will pay several thousand. A medium sized firm of solicitors can easily pay £100k+.

There is also the cost of training that is compulsory for solicitors. A typical course costs around £350 for 4 hours which gives you 4 points towards the 16 required each year. A specialist course for something like mediation will cost £3000+ for a two day course.

Solicitors are required to have a computerised accounts system with appropriate security measures and will usually have a time management system which is used to record work in progress which itself is used to calculate tax and VAT liabilities. Accountants will be used, at additional cost, to prepare accounts and carry out annual audits.

There is also the cost of supervision which is a requirement of most professional indemnity insurance policies as well as of the Law Society. Any work a solicitor carries out that cannot be charged to a client is an ‘overhead’ which drives up the cost required to provide the service.

Take out heating, lighting, service and/or lease costs of office equipment, mortgage/rent, business rates and wages and the profit element begins to look very slim.

So, when you say “any self employed person has the same overheads” you are very wide of the mark. I accept that “there are more meterials for their trade” in some professions but those material costs are passed onto the paying client – builders charge for labour and materials so th costs of materials is not an overhead which the builder has to bear.

Charles

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04 Jun 11 #271484 by Foppish
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Charles, I'm certainly not attacking either you personally or your profession at large. There will be good and bad within the professiona s with any other - some who gratis give their expertise to strangers (thank you!) and some who wind up tensions between clients deliberately to get more money. Nor did I ever imagine that you pocket the whole hourly rate. I hadn't factored insurance in - although I wonder how it compares to that of a private midwife, or dentist or physiotherapist. Nor am I blind to the requirement for long hours, long training, CPD etc. The fact remains that the social housing waiting lists are not littered with in-work, hard-up solicitors and barristers and most in the legal profession will earn far more than most who would need their advice in a divorce. Nor am I saying that the advice isn't worth every penny. But that isn't my point here.

My point is that the system shouldn't be such that it requires interpretation to this extent and finesse.

As Dukey (?sorry - can't see back that far in mid-type) stated that within a court it is (usually) down to "needs" and not eloquence or arguing or stubborness, 1) why the need for representation at all? (and certainly the range of costs of representation - is it never worth paying for a "better" barrister? what market forces drive the price differentials then? why would a judge ever need a barrister to point out case law to them? why don't they know all this?). And why the posturing before-hand, why, if it IS all so fair and clear when you get to court aren't all solicitors in agreement about the probable outcome and the costs to get to court far, far less. Why aren't solicitors under obligation to spell out these outcomes and refuse to represent those who won't take advice and who must by definition therefore be being unreasonable and driving up costs? (I'm sure there would be enough work around without it)which is why I think if there was a swift initial FDR-lite as part of the application to divorce, so that people had an idea.

I have no idea what is fair or reasonable in the eyes of a judge, I really ahve no idea if what I want is even in the ball-park of what is possible - why would I? I've never done this before, neither has stbxH. I rely on my solicitor's advice, and pay handsomly for her expertise. If she told me that I was being unreasonable I would listen (I don't need it repeating at £250 an hour!). She never does though, and I can't believe that I am never unreasonable - no-one is.

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05 Jun 11 #271533 by pergamon
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Are all solicitors intrinsically greedy, out to extract the maximum financial gains from their clients? No. But some are. Human nature has something to do with it, but also such mundane matters as having to generate a certain minimum income commensurate with their position in a partnership or just simply to protect their standing within it. I'm thinking that in a firm where the average annual income generated by all partners is X pounds, then a partner who expedites all his/her cases and does their best to keep their bills to the lowest possible will be under some pressure (perhaps self imposed?) to ensure that their contribution to the firm's pot is close enough to X and is not consistently well below it. After all, no one likes to feel that he/she is being carried by their colleagues - a burden, dead wood, that sort of thing. My wife who started divorce proceedings which have since been dismissed (thank you Charles & Dukey for your help with the process) told me that she told her solicitor that 50-50 would be fair and acceptable but that her solicitor (a member and organizer for Resolution, no less) told her that she can and should ask for much more because I am in full-time employment whereas she can stay self-employed (and thus on generally lower income) until after the financial settlement when she can go back to being employed full time. My wife also told her that she was happy in the flat where she was living at the time but her solicitor said that she should state that she needs to live in a house instead (based on us having lived in one before)! These, and many other actions by her solicitor, persuaded me that the grounds were being laid for an unnecessarily lengthy and acrimonious battle that would have been financially ruinous for us but well rewarding for the solicitor (at 270 pounds/hour, it would be).

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05 Jun 11 #271534 by Fiona
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I'm not a lawyer but it is my job to know about facts, figures and the costs of running businesses. Typically legal firms overheads may cost as much as 85% and professional indemnity insurance can be 27.5% of the firm's gross fees. The average high street family solicitor earns between £27k-£40k which isn't a gravy train for someone who has studied a degree, completed years training on the job and further training year in year out. Physiotherapists' average earnings are around £38k. Like other employment lawyers' jobs have been shed.

Most lawyers know It isn't good business acumen to have dissatisfied clients but by the law of averages 50% of their clients will lose their court case and many will naturally feel aggrieved whether it is justified or not.

There are no certainties in family law and lawyers can only advise about probabilities based on their knowledge of the law and experience of working with the courts on a day to day basis. That and lawyers representing/defending clients' point of view is universal and applies in the States and Europe too, even if their client is a mass murderer. Some lawyers would prefer if there was more clarity but have to work in the system regulated by government as it exists rather than invent one that doesn't.

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06 Jun 11 #271712 by .Charles
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Charles you are wrong about the insurance costs of scaffolders as they are by far and away one of the heftiest in the building business due to the very high risk of fatal accidents and then huge damages claims on the employer by the estate of the seriously injured or dead.


Actually, I'm not wrong. My example made it clear that there was a difference between plumbers, scaffolders and solicitors. I'm well aware of the cost of insurance for scaffolders as I was involved in a case last month where such figures were used. The point is that these all pale into insignificance when compared to the insurance paid by solicitors.

For reference, the payments made as a result of fatal accidents are usually very low as death is usually considered 'low value'. Check your schedule of payments on your holiday insurance for examples.

Professional indemnity insurance pays out all of the time as it is very easy to make mistakes - particularly in conveyancing maaters where one error can be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. It does not have anything to do with prosecution though which is a criminal matter that carries criminal sanctions. These are not covered by professional indemnity insurance.

Charles

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06 Jun 11 #271716 by dukey
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I hope most people who read this will see it as a warning of what not to do.

The lady who started the thread wanted 60k to pay off the mortgage, for reasons unknown it turned into a battle, so now they have a bill of 460k all assets and money wiped out, utter madness, i can only agree with Pete`s sentiments.

After PvP a law lord made it quite clear that legal professionals should not use a disproportionate amount of assets during court proceedings, i can`t remember the numbers but i think they started with just over a million and ended with a couple of hundred grand, the rest spent on lawyers.

I fail to see how the burden of blame can be placed at the door of the legal profession, if you ask a solicitor or barrister to do some work for you they will providing its lawful, why wouldn't they its their job!.

Are they all noble professional and honorable, well no of course not, you get bad apples in every barrel, in fact i know a legal exec i personally wouldn't leave in charge of a goldfish never mind a case, but that is one man who i suppose tends to bite of more than he can chew, for the most part lawyers do what you ask them to do, same with any profession , you ask what it will cost they give an estimate and you agree or decline.

The lady who started the thread said something very important, after all she has been through she recommends mediation i couldn't agree with her more.

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