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Comment on divorce & family law 

Family law solicitor says it’s good to be bad


Firm negotiation in divorce.

Gordon Gecko said in the film Wall Street “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed - for lack of a better word - is good.” I’m not sure I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment but it does make me think about my role as a family law solicitor and the advice I give to clients.

Whilst I don’t think greed has a place in divorce proceedings, I do think there is a place for ambition and aspiration, set alongside fairness. Let me explain.

Woolley & Co lawyers are all members of Resolution and as such we are all committed to helping our clients reach an agreement, ideally without the need for court proceedings if we can. But very often we have to take a firm stance and say no to an agreement because it does not achieve what is best for our clients.

Firm negotiation can be necessary in divorce

Being a member of Resolution does not mean that we have to agree to everything because we just roll over and play nice when it comes to negotiations. It means advising our clients properly about the merits of a divorce settlement and advising them to accept an offer when it is in their best interests to do so. It also means making it very clear to the other party that if their proposal is completely inappropriate we tell them and explain why and how they could go about making their offer much more palatable.

There is nothing wrong with wanting what is best for you providing that what you want is achievable within the confines of the law. It is about managing expectations.  We cannot give you the moon on a stick and we will never claim to, that will be disingenuous and frankly wrong but we can certainly give you an indication of what we think we can get for you.

Don’t accept the first financial offer without taking advice

Very often clients come to me and say ‘my ex says I will get nothing if we go to court. They say they are entitled to keep the house and all our savings...there’s no point in me arguing this, they’re just going to win’. My response tends to be – well they would say that wouldn’t they. SunTzu said that the best war is the one you never fight and that’s great for your spouse. If you’re not prepared to argue your case they get to keep everything and avoid spending money on lawyers. 

By getting some professional advice at an early stage you will know whether what your spouse is telling you is correct and whether their offer is really fair or could be improved on with some negotiation or in a worst case scenario asking the court to make a decision.

If your children are living with you there is an even greater imperative to get advice and make sure you and the children can be housed and taken care of. Likewise if you’re approaching retirement, you need to know how you will be able to support yourself in the future. Sometimes you need to stand your ground to make sure you get what is best for you, and your future. And Woolley & Co will back you all the way.

Ian Giddings
Family Law Solicitor Coventry

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