Services to help with a separation
Last updated: 24/01/2020
There are many situations during the process of separation when you may need to get legal advice. Below are some legal services that could be useful.
Finding a solicitor
Choosing the right solicitor is important. Get personal recommendations from family or friends who have used a family law solicitor. It is important to try to get this right from the start as changing solicitors ‘mid-stream’ can be difficult.
Choose a solicitor who specialises in family law if possible.
You can check for solicitors who practice family law in your area at the Family Law Association website.
If you are on a low income you may be entitled to legal aid to help with the costs.
When you go to your first meeting with a solicitor you will need to take with you two forms of identification showing your name and address. One form could be a council tax statement, bank statement or utility bill (within the last three months); the other should be a form of photographic identification such as a passport or driving licence.
Without this information, your solicitor may not be able to proceed.
You may also want to take your marriage certificate and children’s birth certificates if you have them (originals, not photocopies).
You should be prepared to provide your solicitor with the following information:
- Details of all children in the home (even if not from this marriage), their dates of birth and schools they attend.
- Contact details for yourself and your husband/wife.
- Details of employment either of you have.
- An estimate of the value of your property and mortgages/loans secured together with details of the lender.
- Details of any other matrimonial assets including pensions.
- A list of your debts if you have any, including credit and store card details.
- A brief summary of your financial expenditure. You don’t have to provide many details at this stage but it will help your solicitor to gauge your current situation and lifestyle.
- If either of you have been married before, details about the divorce and any court orders made.
CALM mediators are family lawyers who have at least seven years of family law experience and who have undergone a period of training as mediators before being accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as Family Law Mediators. They are trained to deal with all issues arising from separation and divorce including child related matters, financial and property issues. The mediator is non-judgemental and will assist parents in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution. An hourly rate is charged and the cost is shared between the couple in whatever proportion they agree. Costs can be met through legal aid, if you qualify.
Collaborative family lawyers
The collaborative process aims to avoid drawn-out legal disputes and gives separating couples a way of working out a solution together. Each person has their own solicitor who will advise them throughout the process. A series of meetings take place which the separating couple and both their solicitors attend. Each meeting will be focused on resolving any disputes over finances and/or the arrangements for the children, and the overall aim will be to reach an agreement which can be drawn up by the solicitors in a formal Minute of Agreement. Sometimes other professionals are involved in the collaborative process, such as financial advisers and family therapists.
The collaborative process is based on a contract which the separating couple and their solicitors sign.
Scottish Child Law Centre
The Scottish Child Law Centre provides free expert legal advice and information on issues concerning children through their advice line, email and website.
The advice line is open Mon-Fri 9:30am to 4pm:
Advice line: 0131 667 6333
There are two free helplines for under 21-year olds:
For mobiles: 0300 330 1421
For landlines: 0800 328 8970