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Preparing for your first consultation with a family solicitor

Posted
October 9, 2023
Family Law

We understand that taking the step to contact a solicitor can be a big, daunting and sometimes bold step, whether you need help with divorce, separation, domestic abuse or children matters. Or you may have commenced a new relationship and require a cohabitation or pre-nuptial agreement. Either way we are happy to help!  

You may feel contacting a solicitor is your first move and a positive step towards sorting things out, or you may have struggled for a while to deal with things on your own and see approaching a solicitor as a last resort. We appreciate you may be going through a difficult and emotional time and will support you along the way, guiding you through the legalities and helping you deal with the stress, anxiety and upset of what you are experiencing.

We offer an initial one-off consultation where we can review any documents you have received and give you some advice on how to respond, or we can discuss your situation and the issues arising and advise you of your options. If you wish us to carry out any work on your behalf, or just require further advice, after that consultation we can discuss this with you and advise you of the likely costs.

All the information which you give us is confidential, and the more information you provide the better able we are to advise and assist you.

In order to get the most out of your first consultation there are a few things you can do to prepare.

Divorce/Separation and the related finances

When you initially contact us please advise us :-

  • if you have been sent papers from a court - there may be timescales for responding or carrying out work;  
  • if you have been given notice of any hearing dates - we can then discuss with you whether you require representation;
  • if you have received a letter from solicitors acting for the other party.

We will ask you to email us the documents and/or correspondence prior to your consultation so that the solicitor can review them before speaking with you.

It is helpful if you know the value of any assets, eg the family home, balances in any current or savings accounts and of any credit card debts or loans, pensions and income (employment and/or benefits) for yourself and the other party, although we can assist with this process after your consultation if necessary.

If you are in the process of, or have been successful in, negotiating a settlement with the other party then you may wish to email us that agreement prior to your consultation.

Children Matters

You may require assistance in negotiating contact arrangements or you may have safeguarding concerns and are considering ceasing child contact with the other parent. It is helpful if you could email us details of the issues before you meet with the solicitor so they are better able to advise.

If you have been sent documents from a court we will ask you provide us with a copy of these prior to your consultation together with any hearing dates which have been listed. We can then advise you of the process and/or arrange representation and assist with any work required in preparing for the hearing.

Domestic Abuse/Non-Molestation Injunctions

If you have been sent documents from the court please advise us of this when you contact us and also of any hearing date. These are often sent to clients at short notice and we will do our best to accommodate your appointment within that timescale.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse we appreciate contacting us may be difficult and upsetting. If you are able to provide us with some information as to the issues prior to the appointment then it does assist us in being able to ascertain any safeguarding issues and the urgency of your situation and how best we are able to help you, but we do understand if you find this difficult and would prefer to wait until your consultation. If you wish to discuss personal and/or sensitive issues you can request a preference for a male or female solicitor who you would feel more comfortable with and we have a paralegal who can sit in on the consultation to support you.

Agreements

Whether you require a pre- or post-nuptial agreement (before or after marriage) or a cohabitation or separation agreement, if you have already reached an agreement with the other party it is helpful if you could send us the details before your consultation together with details of all the assets. The solicitor can then consider these before meeting with you.  If you wish us to negotiate on your behalf then it still assists us if you could provide a list of all the assets before or at your consultation.

Your Consultation

We usually carry out the initial consultation by telephone but can arrange for this to be in person or by video call. You can have someone with you as we appreciate you could find the consultation difficult and may be provided with a lot of information to take in. You may wish to take notes (or for your companion to) and we recommend you write a list of questions so you do not forget to ask anything that’s important to you.

Please provide us with a telephone contact number and the name of the other party before your consultation. We will need to carry out ID checks with you before we book your appointment, although this can be done on the day if your consultation is in person.

If you require a further consultation, maybe because you need clarification on the issues discussed or because you have further questions, we can arrange a further consultation for you.

If you require any further information or would like to book a consultation, please contact our paralegal Alison Cole - 01293 596947 or alison.cole@stevensdrake

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