The prospect of meeting with a divorce solicitor, particularly to discuss intimate issues of daily lives can be uncomfortable and something most people would prefer to avoid, but when the time comes it is wise to be prepared for that initial meeting.
There will be a lot to convey in a relatively limited period of time, either over the telephone, in a meeting or by Skype. Preparation is important and the below is a suggestion of the things you might want to consider before you have your first meeting or call with the solicitor.
Make sure they are the right lawyer for you
There are many types of divorce lawyers who have a range of expertise, and some specialise in different areas. They also have different styles and ways of working. You could potentially be working closely together over several months and it is important that you feel that you will be able to work constructively together. You will usually have the opportunity to assess this during a first meeting or call with the lawyer but there is a lot to take in during that conversation. It is therefore worth front loading the meeting with as much information as possible, so you are not distracted by delivering factual detail to your potential lawyer.
The below is a list of key information you should try to provide your lawyer with, in advance of the meeting. That way you will be able to use your time to establish whether you believe you are meeting with someone who will be able to provide you with a clear overriding strategy as well as be responsive on a day-to-day level.
If children are involved, you will need to provide the following:
- the names and dates of birth of your children (to include any children you or your partner have from any previous relationships)
- their nationalities
- their educational arrangements
- if already separated, the existing arrangements in place for your children
- whether there has been any social services or other formal intervention within the family at any stage in the past
- any evidence you have of the allegations you may wish to make in relation to your co-parent
- contact diary, if appropriate
If you and your partner have connections to more than one country, your lawyer will need to know the following information:
- your nationalities
- a geographical breakdown of the countries in which you have both lived since birth and approximate dates in which you have both lived in those countries
- details of where your marriage took place and whether you recall entering into a prenuptial agreement or property regime at that time
- details of any assets held internationally
- any plans or intentions by either party to seek to relocate internationally with your child/children
If you believe your partner suffers from borderline or narcissistic personality disorder, please make this clear at the start of your meeting. In these cases it is vital you find a solicitor who has experience of high-conflict divorces.
In that first meeting you must ask what they do which is different when acting against people with borderline or narcissistic personality disorder. There is no right answer but there must be a strategy that you are comfortable with from the outset.
Core information needed in all divorces
- dates of birth
- where you were born
- where you have lived during your marriage
- when your relationship began
- when you began to live together
- the dates of your marriage and separation (if applicable)
- a summary of both your and your husband/wife/partner’s assets as far as they are known to you
- details of any significant financial events during your marriage, such as the acquisition or sale of assets, any pre- or post-nuptial agreements, inheritances, business buyouts, gifts or loans
- if emergency orders are being considered, whether your partner is going to be away at any stage over the next 4–6 weeks.