The decision to file for divorce is generally not taken lightly. It comes with an emotional journey of realising that something feels wrong, trying to work on it, then coming to terms with the fact the relationship is coming to an end, followed by several stages of grief.
If you have gone through a lot of work and have decided that divorce is the only remaining option for you and your partner, it is time to schedule your first consultation with a divorce lawyer.
Please be aware that your lawyer is hardly a therapist – if you are still doubting whether divorce is the right decision for you, it’s best to refer to marriage guidance.
What to Expect
What happens during the first divorce consultation depends on a number of factors, including:
- Whether you have discussed divorce with your spouse
- Whether both parties have come to a mutual agreement to divorce
- Whether the divorce may be acrimonious
- Whether mediation may be suitable
- Whether there are any emergency factors, such as domestic abuse, child protection concerns or risk of assets being dissipated
During the first meeting, your solicitor will ask lots of questions about you, your spouse and your children (where relevant). The aim of this process is for them to get a good understanding of your personal, financial and psychological situation so that they can assess matters and advise you about any legal questions that you might have.
What to Bring
There is certain information which you will need to share with your solicitor in order to make it possible for them to contact you and get to know your situation. This information includes:
- Your personal information, including your full name, address, date of birth, contact details and the reason for the consultation
- Your spouse’s (or the ‘opposing party’s’) information, including full name, address and date of birth
- Your marriage history, including prior marriages
- The number of children you have (if relevant)
- The employment status of you and your spouse
- The highest level of education/training that you and your spouse have received
- The name of your spouse’s solicitor (where relevant)
- Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
- Any pending court dates that have already been scheduled
- Any potential or pending compensation claims
- Any court or administrative orders standing with the opposing party
- Information about your social media accounts, in case any damage control will need to be done.
Who to Bring
A consultation with a solicitor can be quite an emotional affair, which means that it’s not advised to bring children, although you may want to bring a trusted family member or friend to provide some practical and emotional support.
What to Ask
Before your first meeting with your solicitor, you may wish to consider any questions you would like answered such as the potential costs of the divorce and how long the process may take. This is also a good opportunity to ask whether your solicitor, based on your case, expects any difficulties to arise.
Other Preparation Tips
It will be useful for your solicitor to know what you would like to achieve from any divorce process. Is it to settle the arrangements for the children, such as which parent they shall live with and how much time they shall spend with each parent? To keep ownership of the house? To protect your business assets? Or simply to maintain good relations with your soon-to-be ex-spouse?
We recommend that you ask yourself these questions a good while in advance of your first consultation with your solicitor. This way, you can arrive at the meeting with a clear idea of where you want to be at the end of the proceedings, and how your solicitor can help achieve your goals.