Before meeting your divorce lawyer for the first time, you may be anxious about what to expect. Martin Kelly, a family law solicitor and divorce law specialist at Dexter Montague LLP in Reading, explains what will happen at the first meeting and some of the information you may want to take with you.
Should I take a friend?
Meeting your divorce lawyer in person gives you the opportunity to have a confidential discussion about your situation, without interruptions. You can take a friend but it is usually better to attend this meeting alone, so you can be as honest and frank as possible. There may be sensitive information that you may not want other people to know.
What to take to the meeting
It is not absolutely necessary to take anything with you to the first appointment. However, providing as much information as possible from the outset will help your lawyer to make a clearer assessment on your situation and speed up the process.
Useful information to take with you includes:
- your marriage certificate or a certified copy;
- a list of your income and expenditure;
- latest pension, savings, investment and debt statements;
- current valuation of your home, business and other assets; and
- any correspondence received from the court or other solicitors.
What you will be asked
You will be asked for a brief history of your relationship and the reason why you want a divorce. You will need to show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, and this can be proved in one of five ways being either adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation with consent and five years separation (no consent required). Your lawyer will advise the best way for you, based on your evidence. If your ex is likely to object, or you do not know where they are, your lawyer can advise on strategy.
Your lawyer will also ask what you would like to achieve by way of financial settlement after the divorce. The assets of the marriage will need to be divided, and you will need to decide what will happen to the home you have shared.
Suitability for mediation or collaborative law
Your lawyer will assess the suitability of mediation or collaborative law in order to work out the arrangements for children and a financial settlement in your divorce. Both of these routes avoid lengthy court hearings and encourage you instead to stay in control of negotiations.
Advice on costs options
Your lawyer will outline the costs of your divorce and discuss the full range of funding options open to you. Legal aid is no longer available unless your case involves domestic abuse.
If you are the person applying for the divorce, you may be able to reclaim the costs of your divorce from your spouse. Other options could include securing future funding against your share of the equity in the matrimonial home, or taking out a litigation loan.
Do not worry about taking notes; your lawyer will send you a follow-up letter summarising the advice given at the meeting, as well as a client care letter. Together, you and your lawyer can decide on the next steps.
Our key contact at DMP for further advice and assistance on divorce is:
Martin Kelly, Partner
Tel: 0118 939 3999
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.