How to prepare for your first meeting with a divorce solicitor
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.
When taking on any new challenge, the best way to prepare is to have as much information under your belt as possible. Here, our expert divorce and separation solicitors provide some top tips ahead of your first meeting with your solicitor.
Why do I need a divorce solicitor?
Divorces can be complex, particularly when separating finances and/or property and deciding on child arrangements. Seeking advice from an experienced solicitor offers you extensive legal knowledge and advice that is tailored to your situation. As with many other aspects of law, a ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t always cut it.
It might be tempting to seek an online ‘DIY’ divorce to cut costs and speed up the process but taking this route does not take child arrangements and finances into account. If there are any such issues to sort out, such as finances, it is therefore best to seek legal advice to ensure that you are protected.
A good lawyer will have the extensive legal training and experience to enable them to provide a solution that works for your circumstances and that is legally sound, avoiding the risk of any pitfalls further down the line.
What happens during the first meeting with my divorce solicitor?
What happens during your first meeting depends on several factors, such as whether you are seeking advice on child arrangements, the separation of finances or if there are emergency factors such as domestic abuse or child protection concerns.
Your solicitor will gather as much information as possible from you about yourself, your spouse/partner, your assets and any children you care for.
There will be a lot of questions during your first meeting; your lawyer will need to know basic information such as details about any children you have, your marriage history, who owns the family home, how much you both earn and details of any debts.
It’s a good idea to prepare some of this ahead of your first meeting with your divorce solicitor.
Our divorce solicitors will usually take these details from you before your initial meeting using our online questionnaire. This means you can get all the information together at your own pace and in your own time, and so that, when you meet us, we can focus on providing you with the tailored advice that you need.
Once your solicitor has all your details and a clear picture of your and your ex-partner’s situation, they will discuss likely timescales and costs for your case and whether there will be any additional aspects.
How can I prepare for my first meeting?
If you haven’t already provided information on you and your ex-partner, your children and finances, you will need to do so during your first meeting.
To make the most of the first meeting, you should bring as much information as possible to share with them.
When preparing for your first meeting with your divorce solicitor, think about:
- The date you got married or started living together, and when you separated (if appropriate)
- You and your ex-partner’s jobs, e.g. the role, salary, hours etc.
- Names and dates of birth of any children you have together
- How you and your ex-partner might want to share childcare arrangements
- 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
Before your first meeting, it’s a good idea to think about what you really want to achieve, aside from formally and legally ending your relationship or marriage.
Important things to consider:
- Be honest about your situation and what you want to achieve
- Be open about any issues in the relationship. Get everything on the table; remember, your solicitor will never judge you and you don’t need to provide a reason for wanting to divorce
- Be patient. The divorce process can take a few months, sometimes longer
- Listen to your solicitor’s advice. It is always in your best interest so don’t be tempted to stray from it
- Be open to considering a collaborative approach or mediation to avoid conflict around child arrangements or finances
What questions should I ask my divorce lawyer?
It is wise to 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 will my divorce take? 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?
- 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 is the divorce process?
Get in touch with our divorce and separation solicitors
Divorce proceedings can be challenging and emotional for all involved, however, being prepared can make the divorce process just that little bit easier.
Our divorce lawyers aim to make the process of legally ending a relationship as straightforward and stress-free as possible. All 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.
We guide people all across the UK through every aspect of divorce and separation from our six offices in Bristol and the surrounding area.
Get in touch by calling 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form. Alternatively, you can click here to make an immediate start online.
* In this blog, we refer to divorce or separation, although that is taken to include dissolution of a civil partnership, if appropriate.