divorce consultation

How to prepare for an initial divorce consultation


Having an initial consultation with a solicitor regarding any matter can be rather daunting. Usually this might be the first time you are seeing a divorce solicitor and separation is a very personal and emotional matter.  

Below are some tips prepared by Family Solicitor, Jade Mercer to help you prepare for your initial consultation.

Do I need a solicitor when divorcing?

You should always seek legal advice before the commencement of any divorce proceedings. Divorces can be complex and quite often seeking initial advice can help you save time and money in the long run.  Your divorce solicitor has extensive experience and knowledge to support you. 

For instance, if you have a leak in your property, you would call a plumber to come and fix it. If you leave it too long or try and resolve the issue yourself, you can sometimes end up making matters worse.  This same principle applies to legal matters, so it is always best to seek advice from a professional. 

Seeing a divorce solicitor does not mean that you will end up in Court. A lot of cases are dealt with on an amicable basis with both parties reaching agreements through solicitor led negotiation. Having a divorce solicitor can help the process be a little less stressful as you have someone supporting you. Your solicitor will also deal with the corresponding with your partner on your behalf. 

Booking an initial consultation

Sometimes it may feel like you need an appointment urgently. Maybe your partner has suggested separation and you feel lost with what to do so want to book an appointment for that day or the following day. This is not often necessary (unless your situation is one where domestic abuse is present).

It can actually be beneficial to take some time to process matters so that when you come to the initial appointment you are thinking more clearly. This will also give you time to gather as much information as possible to enable you to get more out of the appointment.

What information should I prepare?

Often your divorce solicitor will send you a questionnaire for you to complete prior to your meeting. This will usually ask for details such as:

  • The date of cohabitation, marriage and separation
  • Details of any children
  • Information on yours and your partner’s financial circumstances including values of properties, savings, debts and pensions.

It is important to complete this information as accurately as possible and provide as much detail so that your divorce solicitor can provide you with more tailored advice. If you do not know the information, for example, you and your partner may keep your finances separate, then your divorce solicitor can advise you on what steps can be taken to find out the necessary information. 

You should not open your partners post or search through their personal documents to find out the information. Most importantly, you must never bring any documents belonging to your partner to your solicitor. Your divorce solicitor will not be able to look at them and will advise you to return them to your partner immediately.

If you have any documents such as your marriage certificate, pre-nuptial agreements or trust deeds, it is best to ensure you bring these with you so that your solicitor can review the information.

It’s also beneficial to prepare a list of questions you may feel are important. You should also, if possible, prepare a list of objectives so that your solicitor can understand what you want to achieve.

What happens at the first meeting?

The first meeting is an opportunity for you to meet your solicitor. Your solicitor will ask you a lot of questions normally deriving from the questionnaire you completed prior to the consultation. 

Your divorce solicitor will also provide you with a lot of information which may seem overwhelming. But don’t worry, we deal with these situations all of the time and what may seem simple or obvious to us may not to you. We want you to get the most of your initial consultation, therefore if you are unsure of anything please do let us know so we that we can explain further.

Your solicitor will ask you your objectives to understand what you want to achieve. This may simply be a divorce and financial settlement. You may have other objectives for example to stay in the matrimonial home. Our role is to advise you and manage expectations. We will try to help you achieve your objective, but this may not always be possible, and we will advise you on the alternatives.

Family law can be complex. It may be that not everything is covered in the initial consultation as we do not want to overload you with information. Be prepared that you probably won’t resolve the issue at the initial consultation, but what you will gain is valuable advice as to the next steps in the process to ultimately help you achieve your objective. Your solicitor should be able to give guidance in respect of costs and timescales to deal with your case at this stage.

Things to consider when divorcing

You should always be honest with your solicitor. Your solicitor is there to advise you on the basis of the information you have provided – we will not judge you. There is very little that will shock us. Your solicitor will have a duty of confidentiality which means that whatever is discussed remains private.

It is important to be open with your solicitor. It is not helpful if you are seeking advice and the advice provided to you is inaccurate because you haven’t fully disclosed all details. A detail which may seem minor to you could have a large impact on your case or may lead to different advice.

Be patient. You will often not get all the answers you are looking for at the initial consultation because we simply do not have enough information. Divorce and financial proceedings take time. A “quickie divorce” is a myth!

What questions should I ask?

As we have said above, it can be a good idea to write down any questions you think of before the initial consultation. Most questions will usually be answered within the consultation but there may be something which hasn’t come up in conversation.

What happens after my initial consultation with a divorce solicitor?

It is important to consider things carefully and not rush into making a decision which will likely have an impact on your future. 

If you want to instruct your solicitor, you should contact them following the meeting and they will advise you on the next steps. Often it is beneficial to have a follow up meeting especially if a long period of time has passed between the initial consultation and the instructing of your solicitor.

If you are seeking divorce advice and would like to book an initial consultation with a member of our family team, please contact the main office on 01708 229 444.

The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Jade Mercer, Solicitor in the Family team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of March 2024.



Jade Mercer


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