For help and support with your divorce or separation, check out our Divorce & Family Law Forum and our Facebook page.
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Here are the answers to some of the questions we are often asked.  If you can't find the answer to your question here, please do get in touch and we'll

be more than happy to help you.


- Do I need a solicitor as well as you?  Will I need a solicitor at any point in the process?

No, you don't need to use a solicitor as well as us - we are the affordable alternative to a solicitor.  You will effectively be managing your own case (which you are perfectly entitled to do, without a solicitor) but you will have the benefit of an experienced professional to guide you through the whole process, to prepare the forms for you, to advise you on the options available and the appropriate course of action, and to attend court with you to provide you with advice and guidance.  You don't have to use a solicitor at any time.


- Can you work with my solicitor if I choose to use you both?

Yes, if you have a solicitor, we're more than happy to work with them if you want us to.  Some people like to keep control of the costs whilst using a solicitor, so you might agree with your solicitor to ask us to prepare statements, forms, applications etc.  Your solicitor will have the final sign-off but wont have to spend his/her time (at an hourly rate probably 3 - 4 times as much as ours) to do the work.  As our Paula Tanner was in practise in Swansea for many years, she has good working relationships with many solicitors in the area.


- We've got an agreement and want to keep things amicable.  Can you act for me and my ex together?

Firstly, we can't act for you as we aren't practising solicitors.  But we can certainly assist both you and your ex.  So, for example, if you have both agreed to divorce and you want to do so amicably, we can help you work out your next steps, prepare the forms with agreement of you both, prepare a financial agreement, and generally keep things amicable rather than causing animosity.


- Can you speak for me in court? 

We are able to accompany you to court and sit in the court room with you to provide quiet advice and guidance, but we usually cannot speak for you in court.  A lot of people have told us that they actually prefer that as they are then sure they have had their say, in their own words, and have said everything they wanted to say whilst conveying how important the whole issue is for them. It's quite an empowering feeling, to be in control of your own case and your own family destiny, whilst also knowing that you have professional support with you to make sure that you stay on the right track.


- Will the court favour my ex if he/she has a solicitor and I don't?

No, the court will show no bias towards or against you if you don't have a solicitor.  The court will decide the case based on the facts and the legal issues.  It is now very usual for at least one party in a family law case to be unrepresented due to the removal of legal aid in most cases, so the court is used to people acting for themselves (as 'litigants in person').  It will have no impact on your case, unless you fail to tell the court something important or perhaps if you focus on irrelvant issues - which is where we come in, to keep you on the right track!


- I live in North Wales / England / Scotland / Ireland. Can I use your service?

We're based in South Wales and can see clients face-to-face, but can also assist via phone, Skype or email etc so if you live further away from us that's not a problem.  However, we are only able to assist on matters of English & Welsh law.  This means that, if you live in Scotland, Ireland or elsewhere, but your case is in the jurisdication of England and Wales (perhaps your ex and children live in England or Wales) we can still assist you.  But if your case is in the jurisdiction of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland or anywhere else, we won't be able to assist as we aren't specialists in the law of those jurisdictions.  However, if you do have a case in another jurisdiction, or aren't sure which jurisdiction applies, get in touch and we'll do our best to assist you.


- Are you mediators / counsellors / therapists?  Is this a support service?

No, we aren't any of these things.  Ethos Family Solutions is owned and run by Paula Tanner who is a former family law solicitor.  She is no longer a practising solicitor as she has chosen to do things differently and so we are the affordable alternative to a solicitor for any issue(s) arising from the breakdown of a relationship - whether that is divorce, finances, arrangments for children etc, etc.  We are a McKenzie Friend service, which means we can't 'represent' you and speak for you as a solicitor would, but we can help you with all the legalities and practicalities - by completing forms, drafting statements, advising you on the steps you might take, attending court with you etc.  We really are an 'alternative to a solicitor' - not a support / counselling / mediation service.  For more information about what a McKenzie Friend does, check out this blog post


- Can I get legal aid?

Legal aid is no longer available in the majority of family law cases now, although it does still remain available for cases where there is evidence of domestic abuse and where the applicant is financially eligible.  However, as we aren't a law firm, unfortunately we cannot provide legal aid.


- I want 50/50 of my child's time.  Can you help me get my rights?

Firstly, we very much advise against saying you "want 50/50" or you want your "rights".  Arrangements for your child should be in the child's best interests - and the court's "paramount concern" will be the child's welfare.  Sometimes joint residence with 50/50 time shared between parents will be in the child's best interests.  But often, some other arrangement will be more suitable, taking into account the fact that the child needs consistency and probably doesn't need to be living out of a suitcase, not knowing where he/she is from one day to the next.  You might get a shared residence order but with an unequal division of time (and it might even be very near to 50/50) if that's in your child's best interests. Either way, it doesn't mean that you or the other parent are more important - it's all about the best interests of your child.  


- The divorce is my ex's fault so I don't want him/her to get anything

Finances on divorce will be based on a number of different factors (your needs, your ex's needs, the needs of any children etc) and the usual starting point is 50/50 division of everything.  The financial settlement won't be based on who's fault the divorce is and whether you think your ex is deserving of any financial settlement.  So even if your ex had numerous affairs or there was domestic abuse, he/she will still be entitled to a reasonable settlement.