The end of a relationship is always distressing. One of the first places to call when you are separating from your partner is your family law firm. How can you ensure that you get the most out of that important first meeting at a time when you are feeling vulnerable? Don’t be nervous, your family law firm is there to represent you and get you the best outcome that they legally can.
There are several things your family law firm can help you with:
• They can recommend other professionals like financial advisors, accountants, mortgage advisors and mental health practitioners to help you get back on your feet.
• They will represent you and your interests in negotiations.
• They will help you help you determine the best solution for your circumstances.
• They will explain your rights and responsibilities to you regarding the divorce proceedings, child custody and support, dividing property and financial affairs and spousal maintenance.
Have a goal in mind regarding what you would like to get from the meeting, perhaps you would like clarification of divorce proceedings or guidance on what steps to take next. Write a list of questions you would like to ask to remind you while talking to your solicitor. Your lawyer is there to do their best for you they will be happy to answer any questions you have. Keep in mind that the lawyer may not be able to answer the question immediately, and the answer may not be to your liking.
Preparation is essential for your first meeting to make the most of the limited appointment time. You should provide details of both spouse’s names and addresses, their occupation, dates of the marriage starting and details of the relationship breakdown. Also provide the names and dates of birth for any minor children. Try to review your finances before the meeting, know the marital assets (property, investments, and pensions) and debts (loans, credit cards and mortgages). Endeavour to bring as much documentary evidence with you are you can. Bank statements, pension statements, and property valuations will help your lawyer get started as soon as possible. You should also bring any paperwork that you have received from the other party, or their solicitor to allow your solicitor to read. Take time to work out what your household budget was before the separation and what it will be in your adjusted circumstances. Your lawyer can’t represent you fully without full and accurate information, so do not withhold any details and be as accurate as possible. Your solicitor can request disclosure of these details if you were not party to your household budget.
Discuss your budget for the case with your solicitor at the first meeting. Some solicitors will give a discounted rate for the first hour; others may give you the first meeting free. Divorces can be long and complex cases so your solicitor won’t be able to give you a final figure at this stage. If your budget is tight you should discuss it with your solicitor before it becomes an issue at a later stage. They will be able to tell you what costs are incurred at different points in the process. A good solicitor will be upfront and transparent with their fees.
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