A guide to the first meeting with your solicitor

Resilience

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 amandaweaver@newleafsolicitors.co.uk

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amanda Weaver

Owner
Amanda qualified as a solicitor in 2002 and specialises in Family Law such as Divorce, Children’s Matters and Financial Claims. Amanda is an accredited specialist and is a member of the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority Family Accreditation Scheme She is also a member of Resolution, an organisation which is committed to the resolution of family disputes in a non-confrontational manner
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Diane’s Story

Two years ago I made the jump ….. I did a sky dive and jumped 15,000 feet from a plane in New Zealand. I knew if I could do that I could do anything.

I then returned home with my family and left a 28-year marriage, three businesses a beautiful home and a lifestyle!!!!

 The marriage in it’s final stages had become very much an abusive one.
However in the early years it was a happy marriage, driven by young love.

I married at 24, coming from a strict family upbringing.

I was not allowed to move into the house I had bought with my fiancée until I was married.

After being married for three years, aged 27, Hannah was born and at 30 I then had a son.

My son we later identified having ADHD and dyslexia.

My husband committed adultery when our son was just one.

I had a very hyperactive child who liked to wake at 5am.

Business took my husband away from home a lot and finally it became apparent there was someone else in the relationship.

These were the first cracks in the marriage.

However I chose to forgive him, as I still very much loved him and he in turn said he had made a huge mistake and he loved me dearly.

In hindsight …. which is a wonderful thing, I should have ended the marriage then.

Why didn’t I? I had two young children who I felt needed a father in their lives and I did not want to share my children of a weekend. Also who would want me with two children. In turn, one being both beautiful and hyperactive, all at the same time.

I chose to stay with a very low self-worth.

From the outset it was always a happy marriage, with dark episodes every 6-12 months. The dark episodes left me feeling very disempowered and wanting to leave the marriage. However some family event would be happening.

It was my sons birthday my daughter was graduating, my father was ill the dog was poorly…. Does this resonate!!!!

It was never the right time to leave.

We would then have a family holiday, this left me feeling, this is not as bad as I think it will be ok I just need to try harder.

I was a dedicated wife and mother, however I always worked and enjoyed it immensely. I chose to sacrifice a career, for my family, as they were my priority.

My husbands business was always his priority and I supported him in every way to enable that to become a success.

When the children were still at school I realised I was not utilising my academic skills and needed more mental stimulation.

I decided to retrain as a psychotherapist and Life Coach. This was incredibly empowering and rewarding, I felt alive again.

Having retrained I then became a senior BACP Accredited therapist.

I initially worked with children who had been sexually abused within Barnardos. I then moved on to work within Higher Education.

I eventually set up my own business with a private practise as a Counsellor, Life Coach and Trainer, winning a contract to work with doctors and nurses within the NHS.

In turn I also delivered Stress Management and Group Work to corporate clients, Jaguar Land Rover being one of those clients.

My work still always revolved around my role within my husbands business and the children.

Yes you may ask when did I sleep?  ….. I did, but had very little life other than work and my family.

Something had to give, so more of me disappeared ……

Whilst everything else on the surface looked like the perfect life.

I developed M.E.

When I was diagnosed my husband said go away for the week and have some rest… Not I will take you away for the week and look after you.

I would shower in a morning and have to lie down afterwards for 15 minutes to recover, the illness is so debilitating.

I could not even remember the way home from work. I can remember driving on the motorway thinking where am I going. I was on the M42, a journey I had done hundreds of times. I had to pull over and stop for a while until it came back to me where I was.

But I still continued to try to be the prefect wife and mother.

I overcame the M.E, again with the help of Hannah who took a week off work and took me away to a hotel to just relax and do nothing except sleep. Something I would not have been able to do at home, as my husband still if I was there expected me to do the ironing or pay the wages or whatever else needed doing. I was also privileged to be in the industry of self care and I knew from my knowledge of the illness and my understanding from a therapeutic perspective of how to take care of myself.

I had done a really good job of becoming burnt out!!!!

I was the epitome of a graceful swan on the outside, desperately paddling underneath the surface in order to keep afloat. A neighbour knocked the door one day as our new home did not have a door bell and said “What do you buy the lady who has everything”

I wanted to scream “If only you knew how unhappy I am”.

Breaking away from the marriage was the hardest yet most empowering thing I have ever done.

Yet then the next challenge came along ……. getting back into the world as a single woman!!

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Hanna’s Story

People underestimate the understanding children have of circumstances around them, from such a young age. But children are very inquisitive, they know what is happening.

People talk about a mother’s maternal instinct, I believe as a child you have that instinct within you for your parents well being and in my case very much for my mother.

I can remember many things throughout my childhood and teenage years. I can remember being sat on the corner of the spiral staircase, hidden whilst my parents argued. Throughout all of the arguments I did not need to hear the words that were being said, but just to know that everything was ok.

I can still remember distinctly I was around five and I heard my mom crying in the hall, there had been raised voices. I did not know if he chose to or, she had told him to leave. But at age five I just remember wanting to be there for her so I could stop her pain. It was later on I understood it was because he had had an affair.

You will hear people say the impact it has on a child when parents separate and you yourself will have your own opinion, of what is right and what is wrong.

Well I was a child of a ‘failed’ marriage whose parents did not separate until later on in life. A Large part of me wishes my mother had left when I was younger, because I witnessed every part of the love that was in their relationship disappear and turn to hatred.

But it did not effect my education – it was instilled in me that school and education were essential; it led to opportunities in life and gave you choices. I had left school, got though colleague, and because of my parents I went on to do a degree at Westminster University in business and fashion buying which I loved. Realizing for the first time, I am intelligent, I can achieve top grades despite my dyslexia, I just have to try a lot harder and put in more hours than others to attain it. I was able to use my passion and drive to push my capabilities, and achieve a first class honors degree.

But I know it could have been a very different story if my parents had separated as a child and it had happened during my school years.

A key part of my story is the relationship we share as mother and daughter. We have always been so close. We shared some dark times together, however we supported each other.

It helped having a mother as a therapist and counselor, although rather annoying at times for a teenage girl, I was very much aware of her understanding of human behavior, she did not miss a trick but it bought us closer.

Over the years, the bond we shared compelled me to support my mother even more. I recognise I compensated for my father.

Not being there for her when my grandfather passed away.

The emotion and pressure I felt to support her when she explained she had M.E. Begging him to be more understanding to take it seriously, to take some pressure off me because I could not always be there.

It is safe to say he always worked, he loved success but stress affected him. Work was the priority it came first before his family. I felt he did not really know me because of his absence. There are always secrets behind closed doors but to me it was clear day-to-day that there was a lot of unhappiness in my mother’s life. Although he tried to compensate with a beautiful home, nice cars, expensive gifts. It was not real, it does not build a relationship and it does not make you happy. It was just his way of showing love and saying sorry.

I knew when my mother left I would have to be very strong. I had wanted the marriage to end many years before, I question maybe if I had been strong enough to support her like I have now we might have left sooner.

When she had finally had enough. I knew it would not be easy, I knew my mother would need to be very strong to do it because my father would make it very difficult. He did not want his wife to leave that cooked, cleaned, the mother of his children, his personal assistant and joint director in the businesses. I knew how strong she would have to be, and I knew in turn how strong I would have to be.

I was right because it has been two years and there have been and still are so many hurdles. I reduced my social life felt guilty anytime I spent away from my mother, even when I was at work. I felt responsible and I knew mom had no one else that understood the pain like I did. You can talk to friends but you know they do not understand because they are not living it as you are and it is hard to imagine the raw emotion until you are. There are only so many times you can cry to your friends about the same issue.

But who supported me, I needed support in supporting my mother, as a child you want to help and being older, I did support her but I felt a big weight on my shoulders. I always picked myself up but there were dark days, times when I just wished someone understood the pain. We supported each other, as she likewise was the only person who I felt understood my pain. In the end I decided to see a counselor to help me manage my emotions, to have an outsider to talk to.

There are hurdles before you leave and there are the ones we face now. Divorce impacts your life for many years.

I am proud of what I have done; I am proud to say that I supported my mom and I would not have changed a thing. I also would not wish it on anybody; it is heart breaking, emotionally exhausting why should it have to be that hard?

The question everyone asks me is do you still have a relationship with your father. To that the simple answer is no. The pain he put me through, at this time I have no forgiveness left for him. You can only forgive someone so many times when they continue to make the same mistake for years, I did and I now have to think of myself.

A man that I am meant to feel the most love and safety from look up to and go to for advice is someone that has hurt me the most in the world. He was someone I most feared before we left.

He continues to hurt my mother and our freedom will come when the divorce comes through. We left two years ago and he still impacts our lives.

We have already overcome so much and from our situation AspireYou, has been born, in order for us to be able to help other women to make the change, to support them and to make a difference in their lives

A quote my mother showed me resonated, you have to climb a mountain before you can see the view.

We are so close now I can nearly see the view.