Guide to the first meeting with your divorce lawyer
- AuthorLucy Phipps
Going in to meet a divorce lawyer can be a daunting prospect. So, what do you need to know from them and what are they likely to ask you?
You need to trust your divorce lawyer
You need to know that you can be open and honest with them - both about your circumstances and about your objectives. Family Law cases can often take several months to resolve and so you must leave that all important first meeting feeling that you and your lawyer are a team and that you are ‘in it together'. Think about taking a friend or family member along with you (even if its just to take notes) and ask in advance what information and documentation you need to bring.
What to ask your potential solicitor?
1. How much experience do you have and what sort of cases do you work on?
2. How long does the process usually take?
3. What exactly is the process?
4. What is it going to cost and how am I expected to pay? How often will I receive bills? Do you have any fee arrangements?
5. What expectations should I have at this stage?
6. What should I do about paying the bills and the mortgage?
7. What arrangements should we have for spending time with the children?
8. Should I open a separate bank account?
What will your divorce lawyer ask you?
1. How long have you been together?
2. What is the reason for the separation and is counselling/mediation an option?
3. Do you have any dependents (children or elderly family members for example)?
4. What are your joint incomes?
5. Do you own any property? Is there a mortgage?
6. What assets and liabilities do you have?
7. Is there anything about your partner’s circumstances that you don’t know?
8. Do you have pensions?
9. How will the separation affect your earning capacity or that of your spouse (e.g. if you have young/school age children)?
10. What are your personal and financial objectives and concerns?
11. Do you have a joint bank account?
12. Do you have a Will?
What to bring with you
1. Photographic ID (passport or driving licence)
2. Address ID (bank statement or utility bill received in the last 3 months)
3. Marriage Certificate (if you can’t find this or have lost it, a certified copy can be obtained)
4. Financial details (you may not have all of the below but it is helpful to bring as much information as you are able to, in order to get the most out of your first meeting):
(a) Property valuations e.g. estimated values from Zoopla or similar
(b) Mortgage balance and amount of the monthly payment
(c) Bank account current balances
(d) Credit card / Loan current balances
(e) Annual / Monthly income of yourself and your partner if you know it
(f) Names of any pension policies (and years contributed if possible)
(g) Details of any financial contributions made by you or your partner towards the marriage e.g. dates and amounts
(h) Details of any amount owed to family or friends
(i) Cost of school fees / childcare
(j) A budget of your outgoings
It is worth asking at the end of the meeting whether you could have a written note of what was discussed (emailed or posted to an address of your choosing) simply because you are likely to receive a lot of information which you may wish to read in your own time or discuss with family or close friends. It is important to remember that once you commence divorce proceedings, the information that you receive from your husband / wife is confidential and so the content of their financial papers should not be shared with family and friends without first consulting with your solicitor.