Replying to solicitors’ letters
Just because you’ve received a solicitors letter or an email, it doesn’t mean you have to get a solicitor to reply to it. Even though each letter you receive will probably urge you to consult a solicitor of your own.
However long your divorce goes on for, and however many times you receive a solicitors’ letter or email, it’ll never be a pleasant experience and your body will always let you know in one way or another that it’s not pleased to see them. You’ll need to accept that now, and find a way to deal with these letters as they won’t go away.
Firstly, decide when you’ll read them. Just before you collect the children from school is not a good time; they’ve got enough to deal with themselves without seeing you even more upset.
These letters may be important, but they’re rarely urgent, so make a rule for yourself that you’ll only open them at a time to suit you, eg after the children have gone to school or bed, and when you can get some support if you need it.
If you can discipline yourself to do this, it will help you to feel more in control. Divorce does tend to take over your life, but you don’t need to allow your ex or their solicitor to control you.
At your chosen time, take a deep breath before reading any solicitors’ letters. Then, if it’s complicated, get yourself a cup of tea and rewrite the letter so that a ten year old could understand it.
It looks like a legal letter but how many legal issues does it really contain? Re-write, in your own words each:
- Factual statement (whether true or not)
- Statement of the law
- Question you’re being asked and
- Thing you’re being asked to do
This will help you to be clear about the contents of the letter and any parts you do not fully understand.
It will also help you to work out whether or not the letter really needs a reply and, if so, how urgently. It may say the writer wants you to reply in 7 days, but what will happen if you don’t?
Be clear, not frightened.
Even if some of the facts stated are not true, does it really matter? And if they are true, but unpalatable, are they actually relevant to the issues which have to be resolved? Ignore as much as you can! Think each thing through properly before you send off a lengthy reply in anger, frustration or anxiety which is not going to move things forward constructively.
If you’re being asked to take the letter to a solicitor of your own, are you clear for what purpose? What can a solicitor say in reply that you can’t say yourself? What is the urgency? Keep questioning the voices of authority!
If you’re being told that your spouse wants to issue a divorce petition you don’t need a solicitor to receive it for you, your letter box is just as good as theirs.
If solicitors are going to issue a petition based on your unreasonable behaviour, ask them to send you a copy before it goes to the court so that you can agree the contents with them and avoid unnecessary costs.
If any of the solicitors letters you receive are written in legal gobbledygook, or you need some help, give me a call: it will cost you a lot less than going to a solicitor.
You might also be interested in reading the ‘Legal Structure of Divorce’ a two-minute guide to divorce proceedings.