If you have separated from your husband or wife, you may be tempted to try to resolve the financial issues arising out of the separation without involving lawyers. 

A lot of people presume that by appointing a lawyer, the lawyer will "add fuel to the fire" (or create a fire that isn't there!) and charge an absolute fortune. However, most lawyers specialising in divorce/family law in Scotland genuinely want to assist their client in resolving matters sensibly, constructively and cost effectively. As a divorce lawyer myself, let me address five common myths and misconceptions relating to divorce lawyers:

1. You only need a divorce lawyer if there are lots of assets or complex financial issues

Irrespective of whether there are complex financial issues or not, it is advisable to consult a lawyer specialising in divorce/family law so that you can find out where you stand and how best to go about resolving matters. This will help you feel more informed, and remove some of the uncertainty and anxiety that is inevitably faced following a separation.

2. A divorce lawyer will increase acrimony

No divorce lawyer should ever want to increase acrimony between a separating couple. They should try to minimise acrimony and provide objectivity to sensitive situations. Most separating couples see the sense of co-operating with each other, along with their lawyers to find pragmatic and fair solutions to the issues at hand. Dealing with matters in such a way can lower the burden of conflict and ensure a fair and workable solution is found - and that ultimately benefits everyone. It also keeps the legal spend to a minimum.

3. If I instruct a divorce lawyer then we'll end up in Court

Clients are always hugely relieved to be told that the majority of separating couples are able to resolve matters with the assistance of their lawyers, without the need to ever go anywhere near a Court Room. Litigation should be seen very much as a last resort when it comes to divorce and family law matters.

There are various methods of resolution now available to separating couples, aside from the traditional negotiation with letters going back and forth. Collaboration, mediation and arbitration are all becoming increasingly popular in Scotland. A specialist divorce lawyer will be able to explain the difference between the various methods and advise on the most appropriate and most cost effective method for you.

4. A divorce lawyer is very expensive

The media love to publish a story about a celebrity couple who have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on legal fees in a long drawn out court battle. It is therefore completely understandable why clients have a perception that divorce lawyers are very expensive. However, at Brodies, we aim to provide cost effective solutions for our clients. Every case is different and the cost will depend on the complexity of the situation and how quickly matters are resolved. At the outset, we will explain our fee structure to our clients.

5. A divorce lawyer cannot tell me anything that I cannot find on the internet

Whilst the internet is a very useful tool for many things, it should be used with caution if you are using it to search for legal advice. One key point to note is that Scots family law is very different from other countries, in particular England. It is therefore vital that you ensure that any websites that you look at for any divorce/family law information is indeed addressing Scots law. Each divorce and separation has a unique set of circumstances and it is not a case of "one rule fits all". By solely relying on information on the internet, the potential for misinformation and errors to be made is significant.

We are aware that there are websites that sell Separation Agreements, but very often they can cause more problems than they solve. A Separation Agreement can be one of the most important documents that you sign in your life, and you should ensure that it meets certain requirements and includes certain clauses. We would strongly advise against using standardised Agreements as they are not bespoke to your particular situation. If you are intent on using an Agreement from the internet then you should seek advice on the terms of the Agreement from a divorce lawyer in Scotland before signing.