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First meeting with a divorce solicitor

We understand that the prospect of meeting a solicitor about a divorce, separation or the dissolution of civil partnership for the first time can feel daunting, especially for those who have never sought legal advice before.  We therefore recommend that the best way to prepare is to have as much information available as you can.

Our expert divorce and separation solicitors have provided some key points ahead of your first meeting with your solicitor.

If you would like to speak to a member of our specialist divorce and separation team please call us on 0161 696 6193 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.

Why do I need a divorce solicitor?

Divorces can be complex, particularly when separating finances and/or property and deciding on child arrangements. The benefit of seeking advice from an experienced divorce solicitor is that it offers you extensive legal knowledge and advice that is tailored to your unique situation. Rarely does family law fit into the ‘one size fits all’ approach.

We appreciate the attraction of an online “DIY” divorce which you may think will speed up the process and save costs, but ultimately this may have the opposite effect and does not take into account the arrangements for any children and the financial aspects of a marriage breakdown. If there are arrangements for the children and/or finances to agree, it is always recommended you seek early legal advice to ensure that you are protected and make informed decisions.

A good divorce lawyer has extensive legal training and experience to enable them to provide a solution that works for your individual circumstances both in the short and long term.


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What happens during the first meeting?

The first meeting depends on what you are seeking advice about, for example, advice on child arrangements or the separation of finances; and if there are emergency factors such as domestic abuse or child protection concerns.

At the meeting your divorce solicitor will need to gather as much information as possible from you about yourself, your spouse/partner, your assets and any children you care for before being able to provide you with any tailored advice. 

As this can involve a lot of questions during your first meeting, we recommend you prepare as much as you can in advance and if possible, email this to the solicitor in advance of the meeting. A Word document with information or contents in the body of an email would be fine (see below).  

Preparing as much information as you can in advance means you can get all the information together at your own pace and in your own time, and more importantly ensure that during the first meeting your divorce expert can focus on providing you with the personalised advice that you need.

When a solicitor has the details and an understanding of your situation, you can discuss likely timescales and costs.

How should I prepare for my first meeting with a divorce lawyer?

If possible, prior to the meeting try and provide as much information on you and your ex-partner, your children, and finances, if this is not possible it will need to be taken during your first meeting.

The details to provide are: 

  • Personal details about yourself and spouse – for example full names / addresses / dates of birth
  • Details of your marriage history (the date you got married or started living together, and when you separated (if appropriate) and and significant events during the marriage that you consider relevant
  • Names and dates of birth of any children you have together
  • How you (and your ex-partner) may wish to share childcare arrangements or what arrangements have been agreed;
  • You and your ex-partner’s jobs, e.g. the role, salary, hours etc
  • Whether you have any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements or any other more informal agreements relating to your assets or children
  • A summary of any assets (joint and separate), e.g., properties, pensions, businesses, loans, cars or mortgages and a summary of any liabilities

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. 

To ensure the first meeting can be as productive as possible, you should provide as much information as you can from the above in advance in the form of a Word document or body of an email. It is not always necessary to provide documents at the first meeting.

When preparing for your first meeting think about

Before your first meeting with a divorce lawyer, we recommend you think about what you wish to achieve, aside from the formal and legal end of a marriage. It is important to think about both the short term and long term wishes that you have. 

It is also important to: 

  • Be honest about your situation with your solicitor. It is better to explain everything at the beginning so the best advice can be provided. A solicitor will not judge you and you do not need to justify why you are seeking a divorce or ending your relationship
  • Consider a collaborative approach or mediation to avoid conflict around child arrangements or finance, unless there are safety concerns as to why this would not be possible
  • Be open about what you wish to achieve
  • Be patient as the divorce process can be lengthy
  • Listen to your solicitor’s advice, it is always in your best interests and what you are paying for
  • Think about whether you wish to have a friend or relative be present with you to offer support and take notes

What questions should I ask during a first meeting?

It can be very useful to make a note of any key issues you wish to discuss and any questions you have in advance. The meeting is likely to heighten any emotions and this can result in it being common to forget your important queries. Brining a family member or friend to a meeting can assist with this.

Common questions our divorce solicitors get asked include:

  • What is the divorce process?
  • How long will my divorce take?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What are my funding options?
  • How often will I hear from my solicitor?
  • What happens if we can’t agree on child arrangements?
  • What happens if we can’t agree on financial arrangements?
  • Do I need to write or amend my Will?
  • Do I have to leave the family home?
  • Can I ask my spouse to leave the family home?
  • Who needs to pay the mortgage?

We appreciate that divorcing / separating can be challenging and emotional for all involved, however, we know from many years of experience that being prepared can make the divorce process just that little bit easier.

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.

Contact our divorce solicitors

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.

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