So, you took the plunge and made the call. You have an appointment with a solicitor. How should you prepare and how can you save both time and money?
Remember you are paying money one way or another to meet with this person. Even if the meeting is free there is every chance that you have taken holiday, paid or unpaid, from work, to make the meeting.
Below is a list of the pre-meeting things to find. Of course you can mix and match them according to your circumstances…
If you have divorce and financial issues
- Make a list of your assets. Define those in your name, your ex’s name and anything owned jointly. Try and get some broad brush figures together.
- Date list: when were you married, roughly the length of time you were together before marriage and how long you were cohabiting if applicable.
- I assume you remember your children’s birthdays and full names! Now’s the time to check you do!
- Bring any court paperwork if there is any.
If you have domestic violence issues
- If you kept a diary, take it with you.
- Police URN numbers are helpful, and any police letters (PIN letters).
- Harassing messages, printed or on your phone are helpful so your solicitor can assess your evidence.
- Any paperwork from social services.
- Any court paperwork if there is any.
If you have Children Act issues
- If your son or daughter was born in late 2003 and you never married the other parent then bring the birth certificate with you (this is to check the situation over Parental Responsibility).
- Bring a selection of emails. No one wants War and Peace, but an indication of the recent communication styles and immediate issues is helpful.
- Previous or current court paperwork if any.
Trust of Land issues (cohabitation financial issues)
- If there is one, the deed of trust.
- Any paperwork saying or indicating you and your ex were intending to share the property.
- The Land Registry official copy of the property in question.
- Try and remember or dig out some paperwork from the solicitors who dealt with the house.
Tips to save time and money and general reminders
Before you go, arrange flexible child care. Don’t be in a rush. Try to leave your children with someone. Kids are awesome, but they shouldn’t be privy to the conversation – they will get bored and you might cry. So bringing your kids is not cool, plus you will only take in half of what is said.
Look up parking and the address before you go.
Have a think about what you want to achieve at the meeting. A basic sense of the law? Something specific answered? A plan of action going forward?
Bring a friend if you can. It’s so supportive and helps to have someone to debrief with.
A notebook and pen is helpful. Write down those legal nuggets!
Prepare a list of questions before you arrive. What is vexing you or confusing you?
Remember to make a note of costs and don’t be afraid to press for a ballpark figure of overall costs.
Immediately afterwards, try and make a note of how you felt about the meeting. This is really helpful if you have lined up a few solicitors to talk to, as you may forget who is who!
Follow the above and you will be more prepared than most to extract maximum value from the meeting.
You may be interested in this article on how to co-parent with an ex partner. If you want to read more around break-ups and the way the law works, you can find a number of easy to read books in our specialist book shop.
Ursula Rice contributed to ‘Separating With Children 101’, 3rd edition, (Bath Publishing, 2023).