Reaching out for advice regarding such sensitive and personal matters can be a daunting time. Not only can it be a very emotional and hectic time, but many people have not needed to seek legal advice before. To get the most from your initial meeting with your solicitor, we have collated our top tips to help you prepare for the meeting:
Thinking ahead about topics and questions you would like to cover in the meeting
Thinking in advance about any concerns that you may have or any questions you want to ask can be very helpful. Making some notes or a list of topics you want to make sure are covered is a good idea. It is usual for a lot of ground to be covered in the first meeting and sometimes it can be a lot of information to take on. For many people it is their first time navigating a formal separation and so taking some notes may also help to enable you to reflect after the meeting. If you would like your solicitor to do so, they can often prepare a follow up letter of advice and considerations for you too.
Come prepared with information about your circumstances
If you would like to discuss a particular issue or aspect of your finances for example, digging out some documentation or specific information relating to it can be very helpful. This may enable some specific advice to be given on that issue, rather than general ‘what if’ type scenarios.
For example, if you want to discuss your finances, it is helpful to come prepared knowing what assets and liabilities you have with approximate figures where available. Your solicitor may ask about the value of any property you own, pension pots, shares or other assets and debts you or your former partner may have. It is not necessary for you to provide exact details at this stage, however it will be helpful for your solicitor to understand your circumstances so they can give you some preliminarily advice relating to your situation.
What to bring with you to the meeting
If your ex-partner has sought legal advice you may have received some correspondence from them, their solicitor or the court. If this is the case, have that paperwork to hand so you can talk this through with your solicitor.
Whether your initial meeting is in person or via a video call, you may also need to have your ID documents to hand.
You may also choose to bring a trusted friend or family member to the meeting for support if this would make you feel more comfortable. It is worth mentioning this to your solicitor in advance of your meeting in case that person might need to be a witness during any possible court proceedings at a later date. If that is the case, they should not join the meeting but you could bring someone else with you.
Make sure your meeting is at a convenient time for you
Seeking legal advice about your family matters can be difficult and talking about particular issues or events can be upsetting or stressful for clients. It is important that you are in an environment where you can speak freely and feel comfortable to do so without being overheard. Setting aside sufficient time for the meeting and making sure any children are taken care of out of earshot is also essential.
Your family solicitor is there to support you and provide you with advice to help you move forward. They may also refer you to appropriate professionals or bring specialists in on certain arrears too where relevant. Ultimately, it is a very important working relationship built on mutual trust and respect and it is important that you feel your solicitor is there to safeguard your best interests.