For various reasons, not everyone chooses to take legal advice, and, in family matters, it can be possible to finalise the divorce and financial matters even where one party has no representation.
What is an LiP?
Those who choose to represent themselves are known as Litigants in Person (LiP). It can be hugely frustrating (and costly) for clients, however, when their spouse decides not to take legal advice, and to represent themselves through divorce and financial proceedings.
Potential problems relating to cases with a Litigants in Person (LiP)
One of the most significant problems can be that, as the LiP does not have the benefit of legal advice, they do not have a clear idea about what a fair and reasonable financial settlement might be. This can mean that they fruitlessly pursue a point through the Courts, which never had any chance of succeeding. The represented party is likely to incur costs in the matter progressing through the Court when, had the LiP obtained legal advice and understood the reality of the situation, matters could have been resolved far more promptly and amicably.
It is not uncommon for the LiP to be extremely wary of the solicitor representing their ex-spouse and this can cause minor matters to become needlessly protracted – had they obtained legal advice, their solicitor would have been able to reassure them and explain away any concerns. This is particularly true of legal documentation which require the LiP’s signature – there is often an element of legal language involved, and the LiP may be reluctant to sign the document when they are unclear what they are entering into. Again, a conversation with a solicitor may resolve any difficulties.
The LiP may, entirely reasonably, struggle to understand what is required of them at each stage of the process, causing the represented party to incur costs if their solicitor has to explain the next steps to the LiP (where appropriate – the solicitor cannot give advice to the LiP). Equally, steps, such as financial disclosure, may have to be repeated if the LiP fails to complete them correctly the first time – again, almost inevitably incurring additional costs for the represented party.
Will my case still be resolved?
If your spouse chooses not to seek legal advice, you cannot force them to do so and matters can still be resolved. At Stephens Scown, we are well-practised at dealing with LiPs and so we will work to ensure that your matter is finalised as quickly and as fairly as practical. If you and your spouse are considering whether it is really necessary for you both to seek representation, however, our advice would always be that it is likely to be a smoother and more efficient process, if you are both represented – and quite possibly cheaper as well.
If you have any situations involving finances following divorce or refusal to legal advice, please feel free to get in touch.