- January 27, 2021
- By Fiona Lyon
- 0 comments
What should I bring to my initial consultation with my divorce solicitor?
We understand as solicitors that arranging your first meeting with us can be incredibly daunting. Just finding the right solicitor for you, that you can build a relationship with and suits your budget can be an arduous task. The good news is that most initial meetings with a divorce solicitor will be based on a no obligation fixed fee, which will include a follow up letter or factsheets. Therefore, the most important thing for you to do in the meeting, is to be present and try and take in as much information as possible. Write down any questions you have before the meeting to ensure you get as much as you can out of it.
What can you expect?
- Conflict Check – all law firms need to ensure that they have not acted for your spouse or former partner on another matter. This can cause a conflict of interest. Therefore, please be ready to provide both your full names, addresses and dates of birth so that check can be completed.
- Identification – you will need to produce a recent utility bill and photo ID as part of the compliance procedures for all law firms. This will allow your solicitor to open a file.
- Client care letter – once you have decided to proceed, you will receive the firm’s client care letter setting out the scope of work, costs and timescales and the terms and conditions. Make sure you read it and check anything you are unsure of.
Most documents can be supplied to your solicitor after the initial meeting. However, if you have been served with documents, it is a good idea to send those to your solicitor in advance of a meeting so they can explain to you what is happening. This is particularly important if you have a hearing approaching as your solicitor will have to make arrangements for that hearing. This will usually involve instructing a barrister to represent you.
We do not have no-fault as yet in this country so you need to think about the reason why you are seeking a divorce. Is it because of:
- Adultery – an extra-marital relationship;
- Unreasonable Behaviour – the relationship is not working; or
- Separation – you have been separated for 2 years or more.
Please note that to proceed on the fact of unreasonable behaviour, you must make allegations against your spouse, you cannot “blame” yourself. However, the reasons do not have to be controversial in order to meet the judicial threshold. Think about what those could be before the meeting eg. you do not have an intimate relationship, you live separate lives, you do not share a bedroom etc.
Your solicitor will need to know what you are doing about child arrangements. Decide where you stand from the following:
- You can agree it between yourselves;
- You can agree it between yourselves but think a parental agreement may be helpful;
- You need help from a third party, such as a mediator;
- You think you can agree but would rather a solicitor liaised for you;
- You cannot agree to the extent litigation or a form of alternative dispute resolution will be needed; or
- Social services are involved and you may be facing public law proceedings.
If there are any issues regarding school choice, medical treatment or protection from abduction, your solicitor can also help you with this.
You will be asked to provide a full financial picture of your marital assets, both joint and in sole name. Please ensure you have the details for the following for both you and your spouse:
- Property Value for all properties
- Mortgage balance for all properties
- Savings – approx. balance
- Investments – approx. balance
- Pensions – fund value
- Insurances – value at maturity
- Inheritances – only if pending or transferred to you during the marriage
- Income + bonuses/benefits (from all sources, including benefits)
- Valuables – approx. value (jewellery, art, vehicles, antiques etc)
Pre-Nuptial Agreements and Post-Nuptial Agreements
You will need to provide disclosure in the pre-nup of all assets (as set out above) and know what you want to happen to them. Will you keep everything separate that was accumulated before the marriage and share everything from the marriage? Will you protect inheritances? It is helpful to have all of this thought through before the meeting, especially if there is time pressure.
All family lawyers are experienced in dealing with issues of domestic abuse and domestic violence. This can involve more subtle forms of abuse such as financial control or coercive control. If you feel you are or have experienced abuse, the consultation process is a safe space to discuss what protection you might require.
If you are changing solicitor, be aware that your current solicitors bill must be paid before you can transfer the file to your new solicitor. Other than that, your new solicitor will handle the transition.
There is a good reason why all family lawyers keep tissues in their meeting rooms. It is very common to become emotional discussing family law issues, so do have tissues at the ready if the meeting is over zoom or the phone.
If you would like to arrange a no obligation fixed fee meeting with Fiona Lyon, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange.
*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*
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