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Divorce & Separation

One One Solicitor One Couple

 

‘People don’t want to be in conflict’ (Cheryl Picard) and yet our family law system is set up to enable, even endorse conflict. The court assumes that people are greedy to overwhelm others’ rights; lawyers are trained to represent and advocate for the individual. They each put their ‘side’ and often unwittingly make things worse. It’s just the system. It leaves couples defending their own position and often actually attacking each other to do so. 

This is really no way to carry on. Given that once the couple were intimate.  

But slowly things are changing. The changes to the divorce laws implemented in April 2022 mean that couples can make one joint application for divorce. No need for one of the couple to blame the other one. 

The time is right to launch, One - a one solicitor one couple service. I am often asked, ‘Jo can’t you work for both of us?’ Now, the answer is yes.  

The solicitor neutral works with you both to sort things out. To sort out a financial settlement, arrangements for caring for the children and where necessary, draft legally binding documentation and obtain an order from the court. One service for one couple.  

One Logo Infograph

How One: One solicitor one couple works?

  1. An informal chat with you both on your own on the phone. Do you as a couple have the mindset to work in this way?
  2. If we all feel it’s ok to try One, I will send you both our One Agreement (the contract between us) to think about and the all-important workbook.
  3. You both work on your own with the workbook, privately. The workbook prepares you for the work with me so we can determine at an early stage what matters most, and where you need help. We can focus there which builds in cost efficiencies. The workbook has lots of space for notes, scribbles and self-reflection, exercises, legal information and practical tips. I ask that you commit to fully completing the exercises, as this will directly impact on our work together and how efficient we can be.
  4. Meet with you both on your own in solo sessions. We’ll discuss your private workbook work and see where you are. We’ll discuss how I can best help you have productive discussions with your former partner. We’ll consider how to prepare for our Joint Sessions.  It might be that after these solo sessions I do not think this is an appropriate process for you. If so I'll tell you about other options that might be better suited.
  5. Initial Joint session. We’ll go through our One Agreement and sign it off; this will bind us contractually to our respective roles.
    We’ll discuss the practical steps you need to take to reach a financial settlement. Financial Disclosure will take place and how you want to deal with this. At this stage we will identify other experts you need to create a full picture. You may need a tax report, a business valuation, a property valuer, and a pension report. These reports take time, so it’s essential that they are instructed to get on with their work. I have contacts for all these people and I like to call them our One Team. If appropriate we can consider and decide on divorce/dissolution so that can be going on in the background. I will explain all legal steps needed and likely timescales.
  6. If you have child(ren) we will discuss your parenting plan. You’ll have been thinking about this throughout our work as they are first and foremost in our minds. The thinking about the children’s arrangements starts in the Our Family in Two Homes workbook and ends with my (or you) drafting up the parenting plan. The parenting plan is an organic document which will change as time goes on and you and your child(rens) needs evolve. You may decide to work with a parenting expert to help you sort out anything tricky; I can help you decide on that. 
  7. We meet in our second session once all the financial information is to hand. We’ll agree the figures and get down to starting to think about how to sort things out. We can ask a financial neutral or financial coach to help you understand the numbers and what your assets mean; they’ll give you a prediction of what your future financial life will look like. You may need independent financial advice about what to do with your financial settlement. It is perfectly possible though to come to a non-binding settlement at this stage. 
  8. We may need further sessions depending on complexity. Ultimately, will create a set of financial proposals you want to move forward with.  
  9. I will draft all the legal papers you need to either obtain a court order (usually essential but I’ll discuss this with you) or other legally binding documents.
  10. We meet to explain the documents and for you to check everything is described just the way you want it to be (within in legal reason) and that nothing has been missed. We will all sign off the documents. Once signed you will be bound to the agreement reached. 
  11. I will deal with the court to obtain your court order, as appropriate.
  12. You get on with the rest of your lives knowing that as a couple you have been at One to create something that not only you can live with that will enable you to thrive. 

This firm is regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) and I am insured to carry out this work. I have sat on The Law Society Family Law Committee and the Resolution’s DR Committee considering the solicitor neutral role. As an accredited mediator and experienced Collaborative professional I bring these skills with me to help you create a viable settlement and parenting plan.