What to consider when attending your first meeting with a divorce solicitor
Meeting a solicitor for the first time to discuss the breakdown of your marriage can be a daunting prospect. Many may not know what to expect or how to prepare. Below, we consider steps that you can take to ensure that your first meeting with a solicitor, and the preliminary steps that follow, are as productive and cost effective as possible:
Although it may seem like a minor administrative point, it is important that you bring all the identity documents requested from you to your meeting. Solicitors need these documents for compliance purposes and may not be able to progress matters for you until they have them. Therefore, present these documents when asked to ensure that matters can get underway.
Information to have to hand
Try and come to the first meeting with an idea of the following:
- Assets – i.e. what you and your spouse own with as much detail as possible regarding each asset
- Debts – what you and your spouse owe
- Income – what you and your spouse receive each month/per year
- Outgoings – an idea of how much you need per month to live.
Although matters cannot be fully assessed until financial disclosure has been exchanged, this information will help your solicitor to give you some broad advice as to likely outcomes.
Be guided by the questions asked
We understand it is tempting to inform your solicitor all about your spouse’s behaviour and the events leading to the demise of your relationship. Of course, do share what you deem to be important, but please make sure you do not focus your initial meeting on this. Remember you are here to get advice and clear steps on how to proceed. Therefore, be guided by the questions asked of you.
Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV)
If, after the first meeting, you decide to proceed with a divorce, now is a good time to write to your pension provider/s to request a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV). This figure will be needed in your financial disclosure and can take many weeks to arrive.
Be open to advice you receive
Try to go into the initial meeting with a broad mind, and without closed ears, as it may be that some of the advice you receive is not what you want to hear. Your solicitor’s advice may be at odds with what you consider to be fair, but it is fruitless to spend money on arguing a point that is doomed to failure.
To start financial negotiations, your solicitor will ask you to provide full and frank financial disclosure. To help keep costs down, provide as much financial information as possible in an organised manner to save solicitors having to ask for clarification/outstanding information. Most solicitors charge on a time basis so the more organised and efficient you are, the smaller the bill will be.
A future outlook
It may seem impossible, but if you can, start to think of what you would like your future to look like. We know that when first coming to see a solicitor, life is and has been hard. However, this will not always be the case. Brighter days are coming, and it is helpful for your solicitor to get an idea as to what you envisage for your future and how they can help in the divorce process to try and make that outcome achievable.
Come to the meeting with a list of your priorities. For example, if it is important that you keep the house, then tell your solicitor so they can see if this is possible.
Now that you have decided to get divorced, the expense of a divorce solicitor is arguably one of the most worthwhile investments you will make for your future. Getting a divorce will be difficult, even in the most amicable of separations. Therefore, it is important that you feel that you can work with your solicitor who will guide you through this process.
The above is only a few points to keep in mind when going to see your divorce solicitor. However we hope that the guidance is helpful to start you on your journey.