We sometimes hear that clients find it difficult to know how to choose a solicitor. We sympathise with that dilemma. In problems relating to family matters, and particularly the breakdown of relationships, the need to feel comfortable with the solicitor dealing with such personal issues is very important.

Research shows that most people who find themselves in this situation want to ensure that the arrangements that have to be made for the separation are fair and, if possible, do not involve going through court. They want a solicitor who will give good advice, look after their interests and do so in a fair and reasonable way.

A good starting point is to find a solicitor who is a member of 'Resolution'.

What is Resolution?

Resolution, which was formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA), is an organisation of family lawyers and other professionals in England and Wales, who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters. Resolution also campaigns for improvements to the family justice system.

Resolution supports the development of family lawyers through its national and regional training programmes, through publications and good practice guides and through its accreditation scheme. Resolution also trains and accredits mediators and is the only body providing training and support for collaborative lawyers in England and Wales.

Encouraging good practice

The cornerstone of membership of Resolution is adherence to a formal Code of Practice, which sets out the principles of a non-confrontational approach to family law matters. The principles of the code are widely recognised and have been adopted by the Law Society as recommended good practice for all family lawyers.

The code requires lawyers to deal with each other in a civilised way and to encourage their clients to put their differences aside and reach fair agreements.

Why choose a Resolution member?

Resolution members follow a Code of Practice that promotes a constructive approach to family issues and considers the needs of the whole family, in particular the best interests of children.

This means:

  • Listening to you, being honest with you and treating you with respect
  • Explaining all the options and giving you confidence to make the right decisions
  • Helping you focus on what’s important in the long-term
  • Helping you balance financial and emotional costs with what you want to achieve
  • Working with others to find the right approach and the best solutions for you
  • Managing stress in what can be an already stressful situation

Resolution Code of Practice

Solicitors who are members of Resolution agree to follow the Code of Practice. This sets out the way they will conduct their cases and treat their clients and those advising the other party.

The Code of Practice says:

“Resolution is a community of family justice professionals who work with families and individuals to resolve issues in a constructive way. Resolution membership is about the approach we take to our work. This means that as a Resolution member, I will:

  • Reduce or manage any conflict and confrontation; for example, by not using inflammatory language.
  • Support and encourage families to put the best interests of any children first.
  • Act with honesty, integrity and objectivity.
  • Help clients understand and manage the potential long-term financial and emotional consequences of decisions.
  • Listen to and treat everyone with respect and without judgment.
  • Use my experience and knowledge to guide clients through the options available to them.
  • Continually develop my knowledge and skills.
  • Use the Resolution Guides to Good Practice in my day-to-day work.

And I will work with other Resolution members to uphold this Code and ensure it is at the heart of everything I do”.

What happens if my case has to go to court?

The approach to dealing with family problems has changed immeasurably over the last twenty years or so. Long gone are the days when, once a relationship had broken down, one party would be advised to issue a divorce petition immediately and without any sort of approach to the other or any attempt to resolve matters by discussion and agreement.

Nowadays, except where there is a real emergency, sensible attempts are made to find solutions without the need for the cost and stress of becoming involved in a full-scale court case. In the vast majority of cases, even when proceedings are issued, agreement is reached before there has been a full trial where the parties are each represented by solicitors.

However, there are some cases where agreement cannot be achieved. In such situations a solicitor who is a member of Resolution will take whatever steps are required in the court process. In doing so, the solicitor will still adopt a reasonable and constructive approach and continue to look for solutions.