Arranging to meet with your divorce solicitor for the first time can feel daunting. No one wants to find themselves in this situation and the thought of discussing the personal details of the breakdown of your marriage may feel quite uncomfortable.
However, it is crucial to obtain legal advice from a specialist family law solicitor about your situation and options. It will help you to make informed decisions about your next steps and you will have put a solicitor in place to represent you in the legal case.
If you have not yet found a divorce solicitor, please see my blog – How to Choose Your Divorce Solicitor
Give yourself plenty of time to find the solicitor’s offices and park the car. It’s good not to feel rushed. Aim to arrive about 10mins early for your appointment. The receptionist or the solicitor’s PA will greet you and offer you a drink. The extra time gives you the opportunity to gather your thoughts and review what you want to go through with the solicitor.
Prepare your questions
During the few days before your meeting, spend time writing a list of questions and concerns you have for the solicitor. This will help you stay focused during the meeting. It also ensures you remember to cover everything that is important to you. The solicitor will appreciate being made aware of the particular areas of law on which you require their advice.
Be clear about what you want from the meeting
You are the client so tell the solicitor what you want from them. If you only want advice on a particular issue, e.g. children, finances, divorce etc. let the solicitor know. If you want general advice regarding separation or divorce, let them know that. More often than not, when people first go to see a solicitor they are not yet ready to take formal legal steps regarding their marriage. It is more likely that the client simply wants to find out information about their particular situation. It is quite normal for clients to have an initial consultation with the solicitors and then to go away to think about the advice for a while. It may be some weeks before the client contacts the solicitor again to give their instructions on how they wish to proceed. The client needs to take control of the pace of things.
Alternatively, some clients go to the first meeting knowing exactly what they want to do and are able to instruct the solicitor straight away about the next step.
Bring important information
To provide you with proper advice regarding your separation, the solicitor will ask for some general details about your family’s situation. This helps them gear their legal advice to your particular circumstances. It’s helpful to have these details already typed up, to hand to your solicitor. Many solicitors supply a form to complete before the meeting, setting out the particular information they require for the meeting.
Provide details of the family finances
Before the meeting, make a list of your family’s financial information (e.g. assets, debts and income details). You may also want to bring any relevant paperwork regarding finances. The solicitor will need to have a clear picture of the financial position of the family before they will be in a position to advise on resolving financial matters with your ex- spouse. If you are unsure of the details because your spouse took responsibility for the family’s money, don’t worry. Just provide the solicitor with as much information as you know.
Have realistic expectations
It is good to be realistic about the expectations you have of both yourself and your solicitor at the first meeting. Your solicitor may not be able to answer all your questions at the meeting. They may require some further information from you or to undertake some research, before being able to advise you on a specific issue. If you don’t know the answer to a question the solicitor asks you, don’t worry. It is fine to get in touch with them after the meeting. Or, the solicitor may be able to find out for you.
It is only the first meeting. Don’t worry about being railroaded into making big decisions and taking formal legal action, if you are not ready. The meeting is a fact finding exercise for you and the opportunity to see if you would feel confident working with this particular solicitor. If you don’t feel comfortable with this person, they may not be the right choice for you and you may want to find someone else.
The solicitor is there to help you not judge you. Don’t feel embarrassed or nervous about discussing your situation. Nothing you have to say will be anything they have not come across before. Don’t worry if you get emotional during the meeting. Your solicitor will give you time to catch your breath and will take the meeting at your pace.
If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you’ll find lots more in my eBooks, which you can purchase and download today.