Preparing for your initial meeting
The Family Law Partners team understands that the first meeting with your legal advisor is an important step. You will have hundreds of questions at the first consultation and almost as many anxieties.
The following pointers may help you feel better prepared for that all-important initial meeting:-
- Think about yourself, you need to be strong so don’t dismiss the option of seeing a counsellor to help you cope with the emotional issues a separation will throw up;
- Prepare a list of key dates, such as the date of the marriage/Civil Partnership, dates of birth etc to pass to your solicitor;
- Take evidence of your identity, e.g. photographic ID and a recent utility bill or bank statement showing your address, to your first meeting. Your solicitor will need this in order to start acting for you
- Research dispute resolution options with your solicitor and consider what approach will work best for you- such as mediation or the collaborative process (your research will have made sure your chosen solicitor can offer these services if they are suitable). In this short video, family solicitor and collaborative lawyer, Alan Larkin, sets out some of your options:
- Prepare a list of questions for your first meeting and suggest there is an agenda for any meetings you have with your lawyers. Why not email this in advance of the meeting (but clarify what it will cost to deal with);
- Be clear about your expectations so you can communicate them to your solicitor. Those expectations may have to be modified in due course but your solicitor needs to really understand where you are coming from. In short, make sure you’re on the same wave-length as the process involves important life decisions;
- Give some thought to how you will fund legal costs, for example using savings, family loans or commercial loans etc. Talk about what it will cost and get your solicitor to scope it out to the various stages in the process. Check if your solicitors offer litigation funding and if so, how does this work;
- If you think you may qualify for Legal Aid (now called Public Funding) check your eligibility with the online calculator – click here.
- Think practically. Start trying to prepare a budget of your outgoings; are these likely to change. If so, how and when.
- Keep a record of your expenses so you can prove what it costs you to live month to month. This avoids the potential for arguments as to whether or not the expenses are reasonable;
- Make sure you ask your solicitor to explain what documents you will need to disclose as well as how and when these are shared, such as the Form E document and accompanying guidance notes.
- When giving paperwork to your solicitor make sure it is in date order, inappropriate sections, and in a file to pass to your lawyer, this makes things quicker for them, and therefore saves you some money;
- Think about where you/your partner/the children are going to live in the longer term; sites such ashttp://www.rightmove.co.uk/ will be of use. Remember, the court will put the children first;
- Make some enquiries to see what your property may be worth (have any similar properties recently been sold on your street, sites like http://www.ourproperty.co.uk/ and http://www.zoopla.co.uk/ can help);
- Find your marriage/Civil Partnership certificate or obtain a certified copy from the Register of Births Deaths and Marriages local to your place of marriage, but be aware of the impact this may have if your partner realises it has gone and suspects you are looking for preliminary advice;
- Collate any paperwork that may show particular contributions you have made e.g. documents showing an inheritance or to show where money may have come from such as a completion statement from the sale of a previous home you may have owned;
- Start looking into your mortgage capacity (preferably with an independent financial adviser) at an early stage, what can you realistically afford;
- Gather together information in relation to your pensions, your lawyer can help you get up to date information;
- Make sure you deal with the paperwork your solicitor needs; if they chase you up you will end up paying more;
- And remember to put your children first in whatever you do, they will thank you for it in the longer term!
The list is not exhaustive by any means. But if you are able to at least consider half of the points on this list, you will be well on the way to making the most productive use of your solicitor’s time (and your money).
You should bear in mind that if you are using the collaborative model your solicitor will not be giving you ‘positional’ advice-ie what’s in it for me. They will discuss the process and what you and your partner would be hoping to achieve.
Remember, you and your specialist divorce solicitor will need to work as a team. If you are going to use the collaborative model the team looking for the solution that works for your family will include your partner and their solicitor. There’s a thought: work with, rather than against, one another!
If you would like an appointment with one of our specialists then please contact us on 0330 055 2234.