Janine Hutson, from Harrison Drury’s divorce and family law team, offers a brief outline to help you prepare for your initial meeting to discuss your separation or divorce and explains what to expect from your first consultation with your solicitor.
Deciding to take legal advice about a separation can feel like a big step. There may be a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about the first meeting with your solicitor and how you should prepare for the meeting.
During the pandemic, your consultations with your solicitor may take place either by telephone or video call. Often a client wishing to talk about a divorce will want to be supported by a friend or family member. This is still possible during the pandemic. Online conference calls can be arranged so that you can be supported by a friend or family member, even if, due to restrictions, they are not able to be physically with you during the meeting.
Preparing information for the meeting
Before the consultation, to make sure you get the most out of it that you possibly can, it is beneficial to prepare the following:
- Details of your financial circumstances and your partner or spouse’s financial circumstances (if these are known to you). These can include details such as an estimate of the value of your home and any other properties owned, your mortgage balance, the amounts held in savings, details of pensions, and your income. Do not worry if you do not have all of these details to hand for the first consultation, as this information can be gathered later.
- Relevant dates, such as the date you married or started to live together and when you separated, and both your dates of birth.
- A list of questions you may wish to ask, to make sure all the issues which are important to you are mentioned and discussed during the meeting.
Acting in your best interests
Family solicitors understand that seeking legal advice in relation to a separation and divorce can be emotionally difficult and stressful, and they will do all they can to put you at ease and reassure you.
Your solicitor’s role during separation and divorce proceedings is to act in your best interests and advise you how to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
In your initial meeting, it is important to speak as openly and frankly as possible with your solicitor about your circumstances and any concerns that you may have about your current situation.
Resolving your disputes
Your solicitor will also discuss with you the various ways of resolving any disputes which may arise between you and your spouse during the proceedings. Your solicitor will advise on the benefits and disadvantages of various processes such as mediation, negotiating with your spouse via solicitors, or making an application to the court.
Financial settlement and children
During your first consultation about your separation or divorce, your solicitor will also be able to advise about timescales, when your case is likely to be concluded, and provide an estimate of the legal costs that will be incurred in your case.
Your solicitor will also discuss with you what you hope to achieve in terms of a financial settlement, and/or the arrangements for your children. Every separating couple’s situation is different and unique, and your solicitor will approach your case with this in mind.
If you wish to arrange an initial meeting to discuss your divorce, or require any further information regarding your first consultation or you seek specialist legal advice from Harrison Drury’s divorce and family law team please contact Janine Hutson on 01772 258321.