How to find the best divorce lawyer for you

The starting point for expatriates in Dubai or other expat hubs who are considering starting divorce proceedings is that there is usually a choice of jurisdiction in which the divorce may take place. Allowing the proceedings to take place in the wrong jurisdiction can have disastrous financial consequences. It is important to choose the best divorce lawyer for your particular circumstances taking in to account where you live as an expat, nationality, assets involved and their location.

A good divorce lawyer should be able to advise on jurisdiction, and then help you to unravel the legal ties of your marriage, secure your financial future, and if there are children, help the parties settle into a workable post separation co-parenting relationship. If your soon-to-be-ex takes an aggressive or unreasonable approach, then your lawyer needs to be experienced enough to protect your interests and your assets.

How do you find the right person for the job?

1. International family law is complex and is continuously evolving. It is highly specialised area of law. Choose a specialist lawyer who has qualified in the jurisdiction in which you expect the divorce to place. For example, if you need advice on UK law, ensure that your lawyer is a UK qualified solicitor regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A general practitioner or an unqualified ‘legal advisor’ muddling their way through is likely to do more harm than good.

2. For British expatriates, it is useful to check whether your solicitor is a member of ‘Resolution’ – an association of family law solicitors who are committed to the constructive resolution of family problems. In addition, Resolution accredited solicitors have achieved special recognition for their expertise in particular areas of law.

3. Geographical location has become less important. The vast majority of the work in your case can be conducted by telephone, e-mail and skype. Choosing the right divorce solicitor is better than choosing one who is geographically convenient.

4. Choose a solicitor with the appropriate experience to reflect the potential complexity of your case. If your case involves substantial assets and income then consider choosing a senior solicitor. The hourly rates will be higher but the legal costs will be proportionate to what is at stake. If your resources are modest request a junior solicitor to handle your case to keep the costs down. Seek assurances that the junior solicitor will be supervised by more experienced colleagues – in this way you can benefit from their lower hourly rates but you will still have access to the more experienced solicitor where appropriate.

6. Arrange an appointment to see your solicitor. Prepare a list of key events/dates of the marriage, a summary of the assets of the marriage and income of both parties, and a list of key questions. You will get much more out of your first interview with your solicitor if you are prepared with these questions, and it will be an opportunity for you to gauge whether you will be happy to instruct that solicitor to act for you.