Having just joined the Family Law Practice I experienced a few nerves at starting the next stage of my career in meeting new colleagues and it provided me with a reminder of what any client may experience when considering instructing someone for the first time.
This blog is just to help settle some of the nerves and give an understanding as to what is likely to happen.
Firstly there will be a preliminary check, known as a conflict check. All firms are required to carry this out to ensure that advice has not been given to your spouse or partner. You will be asked to provide yours and your partner’s full names and addresses as a minimum.
The next step you will be asked for your identification. This is a requirement for us to open our files in much the same way as a bank requires from you to open an account. You will be asked to provide photo ID such as a passport or driving licence and a document confirming your name and address such as a utility bill or bank statement from within the last three months.
Thirdly you will be issued with a client care letter or engagement letter which will set out the terms and conditions, scope of work to be done, an estimate of fees and timescale for resolution, charging structure and complaints procedure.
Many lawyers offer an initial consultation free of charge for certain period usually half hour or a fixed fee so that they can get to know you and understand what is required. Once you have agreed upon a course of action you may be asked to make a payment on account of fees and will then usually be billed upon a monthly basis.
You wont be expected to bring any documents with you to the first meeting, save for ID if not already supplied, but if there is a jurisdiction issue then the original marriage certificate may be a help.
If considering a divorce or dissolution then you may be asked for the reasons as to why the relationship has broken down which may include you being asked for some examples of your partner’s unreasonable behaviour.
If the behaviour has involved violence within the relationship then the lawyer will provide immediate advice to try and provide you with safety options with yours and any children’s welfare paramount.
What will help you, and the lawyer, is also to have a snapshot of your financial position, so that you have an idea of the value of any property you may own, together with details of approximate amounts of mortgages outstanding, details of savings and investments, pension values and relevant incomes. It is not essential for the meeting but it will enable more specific advice being given as opposed to generic.
Any other financial or other information that you feel is relevant such as inheritances, medical issues, prenups, length of cohabitation, pre marital assets, improper conduct, etc
If you are wanting advice regarding children then details of the issues between the parties.
It is often helpful to come with a list of specific questions, we may not be able to answer them all with a definitive answer but will be able to provide a response which will give you knowledge and an understanding which will hopefully put your mind at rest.
After most appointments you will receive follow up communication summarising the meeting as we recognise that it is often an emotional and difficult experience and that you may not digest all of the advice being given at the meeting. This is often the case at present where most meetings are taking place virtually.
If you need any more information then please do call or email.