Divorce is always difficult, but the aim is to make the process as simple and as painless as possible for everyone. As part of Good Divorce Week, we’ve been looking at how to achieve this from the outset.
Once a couple has decided to separate, it’s inevitable that at some point a family lawyer or solicitor will have to be consulted, especially as the process will eventually go through the courts. To make that initial consultation as productive and as easy as possible, here are our top tips for instructing your family lawyer.
What you’ll need to bring to your meeting
You’ll need to provide photographic proof of identity such as:
- a passport or;
- driving licence.
You’ll also need an official confirmation of your address, such as:
- a council tax or;
- electricity bill.
In fact, it’s worth contacting your lawyer before that initial meeting to check exactly what they’ll need to see. This could include:
- any pre-nuptial agreements;
- court orders, or;
- any parenting plans you may have drawn up beforehand.
The more information you can give them at this early stage, the better. It would be a shame to waste a trip to your family lawyer’s office just because you forgot to bring a single piece of paperwork.
Keeping things confidential
Confidentiality is important at this stage. If you still haven’t told your partner that you’re consulting a family law expert, then it may be wise to avoid making any payments for your session from a joint bank account, for example. You can ask your solicitor at this point to be discreet, and keep your consultations private until you choose to reveal the situation to your partner.
Give your lawyer all the information on those key dates they’ll need
Your family law solicitor will need to establish a timeline of key dates and events, particularly if they involve joint financial concerns or parenting plans. They’ll also need to know about your joint assets such as pensions, overseas assets, savings and stocks and shares portfolios.
Outline what your objectives are from the outset
The initial meeting with your lawyer will determine what your objectives are. By clearly outlining these from the start, your legal advisor will know how to proceed to get the best result for you and your children (if you have any).
Don’t just focus on the negatives. You’ll need to tell your legal team about the positives too so that they can find areas of common consent that could help push the process forward. However, they will also need to know about those areas that may be difficult to resolve, so that they can work on solutions with you and your partner.
You’re inevitably going to have a lot of questions. Make sure that the lines of communication between you and your legal team stay open, and that you can easily access advice and help as and when you need it. The earlier you consult with your team over an issue, the faster they can act to resolve it. Don’t ‘sit’ on a problem because you feel it may be wasting their time (or your money!).
Get your finances straight
There’s no escaping the fact that divorces cost money. In fact, the average cost of a divorce in the UK in 2021 was around £14,500. Even a ‘good divorce’ (one that’s uncontested and uncomplicated) can still set you back thousands of pounds in legal fees. Talk to your lawyer before you start the process to get a rough idea of how much it may cost you so that you can plan your finances.
Leave the door open
Finally, unless there are circumstances that would make a reunion unfeasible, it may be worth instructing your family lawyer to keep the ‘door open’.
Reconciliations can and do happen, and if that is on the cards then it’s worth talking to your legal representative to help you make an informed decision about the future. If reconciliation is possible and both parties want to explore that avenue then your lawyer may be able to advise you on how to start the process through professional mediation.
Speak with our team of family law solicitors today for an initial discussion. We offer expert advice, great value for money and our services can be provided remotely for your convenience. For more information please email or call us on 020 8349 0321.