Divorce is the dissolution of marriage within legal bounds, and dealing with issues connected to divorce can be very traumatic. Even so, many marriages end this way. Popularly thought to be a very common issue in the United States, but in actuality divorce rates in Europe are not much better and in fact may be worse.

It may surprise you to know that by recent survey data, both the US and the UK actually hover at around 40% divorce rate compared to others like Portugal, Belgium, and Denmark, which break 50% to 60%.

Divorce can exhaust you mentally, physically and financially so it is just right to know the direction you’re headed when thinking about divorce. Divorce laws are of course different for every country, but in some ways just divorce laws between states can be as varied as entirely different countries. As much as the US and the UK have strong similarities there are also important cultural differences.

With these oddly similar numbers, do they view marriages and divorce the same way?

1. There is no No-Fault Divorce in England and Wales.

There are two ways to approach divorce – Fault and No-Fault.

The first one is the No Fault divorce, which includes lack of support from your spouse and any other cause without any rational possibility to reconcile. This includes two parties living apart from each other for three years or more. Another case would be due to mental health issues that last for more than three years, marriage could be ended as there may be no chance for recovery.

The other type is the Fault Divorce, which often times the most common basis for divorce conditions. This includes cruelty or bad behavior and abuse towards the partner (whether mental or physical), adultery or infidelity, felony (when a partner commits crime and imprisoned for more than a year) and abandonment (when partner leaves the other for more than a year).

England and Wales does not have the provisions for no fault divorce; that is, one party cannot unilaterally decide to end the marriage due to differences. A fault-based system imposes penalties on the misbehaving party in a relationship, but of course when neither want to lose their properties and rights to their children they must have an option other than suffering a loveless marriage.

Among the grounds for divorce there is one way to achieve functionally the same result, when married partners live apart with mutual consent for at least two years. However, this period may be prolonging the pain of an irreconcilable marriage and imposes greater burden on their children. Ireland has a harsher requirement, four years before divorce is allowed under grounds of separation.

Scotland had No-Fault Divorce provisions since 2006.

2. Minimum amount of time to be married before allowed to file for divorce

In the United Kingdom, the couple must be married for at least a year prior for a divorce case to be filed for petition.

In the US, in theory you can apply for a fault-based divorce almost immediately if the marriage would be harmful. For amicable no-fault divorce, it generally depends upon the State but about one year of separation.

Alimony or terms of spousal support still tends to be awarded based the length of time being married.

3. The Decree Nisi and the Decree Absolute

Divorce proceedings in the US have an almost clinical efficiency. Most of it is spent in talks and negotiations between lawyers, only taking it to court when there must be a judgement laid on adversarial conditions regarding custody and properties.

Divorce proceedings in the UK, being an at-fault mechanism, is between the petitioner and respondent. The respondent may choose to defend (against) the divorce or file a divorce petition of their own. When the intent to defend or both sides have filed divorce petition, the court will schedule a hearing.

The Decree Nisi and the Decree Absolute are the final two stages of divorce proceedings. When the court issues the Decree Nisi, it has found that the marriage is no longer viable. After a specified amount of time, if the Decree Nisi is not given grounds to be retracted, it will become a Decree Absolute, it does not apply merely to divorce proceedings.

Even so it is possible that the court can suspend divorce process even after issuing the Decree Nisi when there is a reason for both parties to reconcile with each other. Only the petitioner may ask for this suspension.

4. Child Support Agency and maintenance

There is no court power in terms of dealing with maintenance of the children. It is now only limited to a number of special cases, when both parents apply for order of consent. These can happen in payment of school fees or when there are care costs for a disabled child. CSA assesses based on information provided and will chase when defaulted.

In this case, lawyers can assess their client’s capacity to make an application to the courts or leave it for the CSA.

In the US, a parenting plan is required and both parties are encouraged to decide on custody and visitation agreements.

5. Divorce automatic resident rules

The effect of divorce decree for a property on a different country may vary. Logistically, it would be best to file the divorce decree in the country where most of your assets are located.

Interestingly, one only needs to stay in the UK for 183 days or more to be considered a resident.

But even if you don’t, you can still be automatically considered to have legally been a resident of the UK if you have a home in the UK for (owned, rented, or lived in) more than 90 days and present in said home for at least 30 days. If you have sufficient family ties to the UK and you have spent more than 15 days with them, you may be considered a resident for jurisdictional purposes.

 

US laws allow you to file for divorce even if you were married overseas. If either you or your spouse is American, jurisdiction still often a matter of where you presently live than where you filed your marriage. Divorce across borders have much greater issues with regards to custody and division of property.

 

Article by Hadaway & Hadaway solicitors in the North East UK.

solicitors legal fees

This actually is very easy to implement and will not harm your conversion rate, if handled correctly.  You will still have the same number of clients but you will be charging them more for your services.  You will notice a wonderful increase in your profits and that’s excellent!

Why You Should Be Charging More:

If you believe you are providing an excellent service to your clientele, by all means, start charging more.  If on the other hand, you feel there’s room for improvement then you need to make some serious changes or get out of the business.   Look at it this way, if one of your clients asks for your help, I am sure you will provide them with the very best legal support to help them out. This is precisely why they came to you, to begin with.

Therefore, shouldn’t you be properly compensated for your excellent service?  The answer is an obvious yes.

How You Can Charge More.

Start Selling Your Services To Your Existing Clientele:

Keep in mind, if you start selling your services to existing clients, you have an advantage because these people are loyal to you.  You will discover they will except your increase in fees.  Let’s face it, your loyal clients contact you because you are their solicitor!  They will not have a problem with an increase in your rates so long as you continue to provide them with the same level of service they had always expected.  Just make sure your rates are not so high that you will scare them off.  Here are some valuable tips to help you increase your profits without harming your practice.

Build Loyalty:

Always communicate with your clients on a regular basis in order to build loyalty.  Contact them and find out how they are doing at least once a month.  That’s not to say pester them, just communicate with them from time to time.  If you are not communicating with your current clients, you really need to turn that around.  With the incredible software tools that are now available, it’s really quite easy to stay in touch with your clients regularly.

Obviously, if you are acting on the part of a client, you are in constant communication and providing the very best service.  When you provide a really great service, they will never consider looking elsewhere. Good client loyalty also leads to them referring you to family and friends.  I am sure there have been times that you have needed the service of a company and have experienced wonderful help and even though there are others that are cheaper, you would never consider turning to anyone else.  Your clients are the same way, so make sure you give them the service they are expecting, they are going to stay because your service has been exceptional.

Selling Your Services To New Clients:

If you are looking to bring in new clients, make sure you review your current services and make improvements where necessary.  Here are some tips to help you make some adjustments and improvements.

Are You Listening To Your Clients?

Unfortunately, many people have a habit of speaking but not listening.  In many cases, solicitors are selling their services on the telephone but forgotten that listening is more valuable than talking.  They are in such a hurry to make a sale, they have overlooked what the client’s needs are.

When you take the time to listen to what their problems are and what they are looking for, you will stand out from the crowd.  Before trying to sell them on your service, know what they are looking for.  Have they recently been injured and it wasn’t their fault?  Are they setting up a will?  Are they planning to get a divorce?  These are just a few problems that millions of clients are looking for solutions for.

If you are too busy trying to sell your practice, you are losing out because you are not listening to them and they will look elsewhere.

Match Your Service To Their Individual Needs:

Once you have listened to what they need help with, it’s much easier to tell them why your service will be a perfect match.  Look at it this way, you are young and interviewing for a job.  The personal director tells the potential employee exactly what they expect from those looking for employment.  All the director requested was that this young person repeats back exactly what he or she was looking for.  The young person repeated back every word and landed the position.  In a nutshell, they gave the director exactly what he or she was looking for.

Explain your services and let them know their needs will be met because you understand what they are going through.  That’s practically a win-win situation.

Follow-Up:

You can follow-up on your conversation with an email or a letter.  Potential clients will feel they are significant to you and that could be a winning situation.  If you don’t, the chances are you will be easily forgotten and they won’t even remember which firm you are with.

Call your prospects back and make sure you have answered all their questions and whether they need more information.

What Should You Charge:

Many solicitors, over the years, have been dropping the rates to such a low level it’s a wonder they still stay in business.  The bottom line, your service is worth what the client is willing to pay.  Some solicitors might charge. £450 for their services while another is charging  £1350 for the same services.  Where some clients might consider the £1350 as over the top, if explained properly they might reconsider when you let them know you will spending more time on their case, being in constant contact with them, and providing more time to make sure all transactions are handled correctly and in a timely manner.

Start off in small increments of  £25 and see if you convert the same number of inquiries.  If that works, increase your rates again, even though you are not to the amount you want, in the end, you will get there once you realize how much a client is willing to pay for your excellent services.

In Conclusion:

Your legal practice is your passion and you have placed a great deal of work in providing your clients with exceptional services.  Why shouldn’t you test the waters and see if increasing your rates will improve your profits while still giving your clients the services they have come to expect? Follow some of these suggestions, improve where there might be weaknesses, and make your business an even greater success.

Author: hadaway.co.uk