I up to Decree Nisi which I have done without the services of a solicitor as it was an uncontested divorce.
I am now arranging a final settlement leading to Absolute.
My wife has not used a solicitor and I have done all the paperwork so far.
I have got the "form E" financial statement to fill in also for my soon to be ex wife. My questions are....
1/ Do I have to use a solicitor to submit these forms to court
2/ I am paying all the fees involved can I use the same legal representation for both parties, or do we each have to use seperate people.?
I believe that you both need to have had access to legal advice before a judge will convert an agreement into a Consent Order. Also, for your own peace of mind, it is worth paying for an hour of a solicitors time to make sure that you haven't left the door open for a future claim many many years hence.
I'm not sure if you absolutely have to, but I would thoroughly recommend it.
If everything is all consensual, I can see no reason why the same solicitor may not advise both of you.
Charlie it is not the case it seems that the present time that you and your wife have actually agreed a financial settlement. The forms you have received from the court need to be completed by both you and your wife independently and attached to those forms will be various documentation which corroborates your financial position. This will include 12 months bank statements, mortgage statement, evidence of debts, full statement of pensions including CETV and surrender values if they are relevant of any endowment policies. Once you have completed and sworn your form E you file this with the court and take two copies to the Court for sealing by the court which in itself is evidence you have lodged the document with the court. When your wife or her solicitors confirm she has sworn her financial disclosure and is ready to simultaneously exchange Form E's you do so.
You do not need a solicitor for the purpose of preparing this document, however, particular care should be made that all the financial information is accurate. A common mistake is when answering the question regarding financial needs people state what they are presently paying rather than what they anticipate their actual needs will be when the party separate and obtained their own accommodation.
In that form the court will ask you to identify the sort of settlement you are looking for. This does not have to be specific and can be generalised and really what the court is trying to ascertain here is whether or not either parties are looking for a sale of the former matrimonial home or not -- a pension sharing order or not -- and whether you believe this is a case for continuing maintenance of the other spouse or as I suspect the parties are happy with approaching the matter on the basis of an income and capital Clean Break. Example is the former wife is to remain in the matrimonial home with the children you may be seeking a lump sum payment that is the one an overall payment from her to you on the basis of an income and capital clean break with her making no claim against your pension. I cannot of course make any detailed observations without knowing the details of the case but you will no doubt appreciate what I have in mind.
Once the parties have exchanged financial information and you know what the financial position of the parties is then a good matrimonial solicitor will be able to indicate very clearly in a short 30 minute interview the likely settlement you should be looking for.
That will then enable you to make open proposals in readiness the next hearing which is the financial dispute resolution hearing (FDR) when the judge will also have your wife's offer and he will then try to broker a settlement. Remember 95% of cases settle at the FDR! It is most important that before making any offer you check that the proposals are capable of a settlement. An example of this is that if he wanted to retain the former matrimonial home and buy your fives interest out of the property you need to be sure that proposed lender will actually lend you the money within the period of time contemplated.
If the parties reach agreement than as Mike 62 wisely states it is a small price to pay to have a solicitor prepare a minute of agreement and Consent Order for approval by the court to make sure that what you have agreed and have in mind will do the job!