How to prepare for your first meeting with your divorce solicitor
Initially you need to consider what it is you wish to achieve. For example:
- Do you already have some knowledge of the legal process and wish to clarify things?
- Do you want to understand your rights and entitlements?
- Do you need to know the possible next steps and options?
- Are you sure your relationship is over?
- Do you want to meet and check the lawyer is the right fit for you?
These questions and many more can be answered at the first meeting.
Preparation for a first meeting
To begin your lawyer will want to understand the circumstances of your family life. To make the most of the first meeting, you need to be able to provide as much information as possible to share with them so they can provide you with advice. It can be helpful for you to provide a timeline of significant dates and events from the start of the relationship to what has led you to seeking advice. It is ok if you cannot remember everything, but the timeline can be a good place to start.
In preparation for a first meeting, we recommend you make a summary of the following:
- The date you got married or started living together, and when you separated (if appropriate);
- If you have children:
- Their full names and ages;
- The current arrangements for their care;
- Are they any issues between you and the other parent regarding the children?
- Do you have any concerns about the other parent? And
- Do you think you be able to reach arrangements for their care or do you need help with this?
- If there are financial matters:
- A summary of the assets including your estimates of values and who owns those assets. For example, is any property owned in joint names, your name or the sole name of your spouse or partner.
- If there are debts or other liabilities, the amounts of those liabilities, whose name they are in and also whether they are secured against your property, for example, a mortgage; and
- Details of any investments held by either of you (as far as possible);
- Details of any pensions held by either of you (as far as possible); and
- Details of the income of either of you (as far as possible).
Note it is very important however that you do not go through your spouse’s/ partner’s personal papers to find out the information. You should come to the meeting only with what you already know and do not bring any papers with you that do not belong to you.
We do offer a fixed fee initial appointment and we recommend payment is made prior to the appointment so that during the appointment we can focus on the advice and your objectives.
Your first meeting with a divorce lawyer
The first meeting is an opportunity to decide what you want to achieve and what is important to you. You may wish or need to prioritise certain issues over others or have a clear outline of what the future looks like. Equally so, you may have no idea at all. Don’t worry, this is where we can help you. If you do have some ideas, we can explain whether your expectations are realistic.
Your lawyer will need to understand the present nature of your relationship with your ex, whether you are amicable or if there have been any instances of aggressive or controlling behaviour. This is because it can help inform the options that are available to you.
The lawyer will want to gather as much information as possible from you. There will be lots of questions during the first meeting. Once your lawyer has all your details and a clear understanding the situation, we can discuss likely timescales and cost for your case and whether there will be an additional aspect.
Most cases are resolved by agreement without any need to go court or reach settlement during proceedings without a contested hearing. There are lots of options which will be considered including mediation, collaborative family law and negotiation.
You will receive information on what the legal processes involve but it is very unlikely this will be a detailed account of what is involved to avoid being overwhelmed with too much technical information that makes you feel more confused than before.
It is important that when you have your first meeting, you have confidence in your lawyer, and they have all the resources needed to help you.
At the end of the meeting
You should leave the meeting better informed than before. Not all the information may be what you wish to hear or confirm what you hoped you would be entitled to. The advice you receive should always be realistic and practical based on the information available at that time.
After the meeting
It is important that you consider things very carefully. If there is a reason to take urgent action your lawyer should be able to tell you, otherwise often there is no rush to make significant decisions without taking some time.
Frequently asked questions
We recommend you write down any key points you wish to discuss and any questions you have beforehand as the meeting is likely to heighten any emotions, making it easy to forget your important queries.
Common questions our divorce solicitors get asked include:
- How long do you think it will take to reach a conclusion? Although it is hard to put an exact date on divorce proceedings, your solicitor should be able to provide a likely timescale.
- How much will it cost and what funding options are available?
- Is there anything I should consider doing / definitely not be doing? Who will look after my case and what is the best way for us to keep in contact?
- How often can I expect to hear from you about my case?
- What happens if my ex-partner disputes my divorce application?
- What happens if we can’t agree on child arrangements?
- Do I need to write or amend my Will?
- What do you think is the best option for me to take if I decide I want to go ahead?
- What do you think the outcome of my case will be?
It is not always possible to give a definitive answer, particularly where not all the information is known, however your lawyer will be able to give you some direction in relation to the arrangements for your children, how to legally end your relationship or what your financial future will look like.
We always recommend you take some legal advice from a qualified professional rather than relying on a friend’s opinion or something you have read online. Whilst there is plenty of useful information available on the internet, it is important that legal advice is tailored to your specific set of circumstances.
Divorce proceedings can be challenging and emotional, however, being prepared can make the divorce process a little bit easier.
Our divorce lawyers aim to make the process as straightforward and stress-free as possible. A number of our expert divorce and separation solicitors are members of Resolution, an organisation committed to non-confrontational divorce and separation.
In some cases, we offer cost-effective fixed-fee packages so that you know what you are paying for from the outset, including a fixed fee initial appointment.
To speak to one of our divorce law specialists please call us on 0161 696 6193.