You have decided that you need some legal advice as there are problems with your spouse or your partner. Here are some helpful hints to help you in making the best out of your first information gathering meeting.
- Choose a solicitor who specialises in family law. Someone may have been recommended to you or you can search the Law Society’s website under their Find a Solicitor page and this will detail the solicitor’s years of experience, which areas they specialise in and whether they are accredited specialists such as being a member of the Family Law Accreditation Scheme. Our Amanda Weaver is a member of the Family Law Accreditation Scheme.
- Booking the appointment. Try to book the appointment when you are free to spend as long as you may need with the solicitor. There’s little point booking an appointment when you have to dash off after 20 minutes to pick the children up from school. If you can, do not bring the children with you to the meeting. They can be distracting and you are also going to be discussing adult issues that they should not hear.
- Preparing for the appointment. Your solicitor will ask you key information such as the date of your marriage, childrens dates of birth etc so if you don’t know this information off the top of your head make a note and take it with you. It is likely that you will also be asked what the estimated current value of your home is and how much is outstanding on the mortgage. How much do you and your spouse earn. Are they any savings policies or pension policies and how much are they worth. Do not worry if you don’t know this information at the first meeting but the more information you can give to your solicitor the more detailed the advice will be.
- What do you want to find out. Think about what it is you want to know. Your solicitor should give you clear advice on the divorce process and what options are available to you. If you have specific questions that you want to ask, make a note and take a list with you. Many clients do this and more often than not the advice we give covers all these questions anyway but there may be something specific that you need to discuss and having a list will help.
- The meeting. You may feel very nervous or emotional and so if you want a friend to accompany you then do so. Your friend is there really just as another pair of ears and to help you if at times you are emotional and also after the meeting you can discuss the advice with your friend as to what your next steps could be. Take notes if you feel it will help you later on.
- The next step. Are you seeking advice on all the options available to you and for you to consider or do you want your solicitor to take some action. Your solicitor should discuss with you what your next steps could be. If you wanted to start the divorce proceedings you will be told what you will need to provide or what further information your solicitor will need. If you do not want to take any positive action immediately it will be up to you to consider your options and to go back to your solicitor when you want some action taken. You are in control of what steps you take. Just by going to see a solicitor does not mean that legal proceedings will be started and you lose control of what you want to do – this is not the case, the first meeting is about listening to your personal situation and advising you accordingly and it is then up to you on what you want to do next.
- Important information. Your solicitor should advise you about important decisions or actions you may need to take immediately, such as having a Will prepared or making sure your spouse/partner cannot run up an overdraft on a joint account and reviewing the legal ownership of your family home or any other properties.
- Costs. You will be advised of the likely costs of the courses of action you could take. It is extremely hard to estimate costs of court proceedings but you should be given an estimate of what your solicitor will charge, the cost of any court fees or any other fees which are referred to as disbursements.
Amanda Weaver is an accredited specialist and is a member of Resolution. All the above will be discussed in the first meeting and if you would like an initial meeting please email Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org