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Every separation and divorce is unique, so it is important that your initial consultation is tailored to your needs.

Try your best to prepare for your first meeting with your solicitor. Make a list of all the questions running around your head. Perhaps even email these to your solicitor in advance of your appointment so they know where your main concerns lie. You will find a useful blog on how to prepare for your first consultation here.

At your meeting, your solicitor will ask for some background to your marriage breaking down, your family circumstances, if you have any children and take a note of what assets and income you and your spouse hold.

This background is relevant as your solicitor must provide you with legal advice as to how the law relates to your family. This will range from arrangements for the children post separation to how the assets are to be divided between you.

You and your spouse may have already discussed how to deal with your family home and savings. This is good and shows willingness on everyone’s part to reach an amicable settlement. Your solicitor will talk you through the legal aspects of this agreement, how this applies to your family, and whether or not this will be achievable long term.

If you have not been able to discuss any matter with your spouse, your solicitor will talk you through all your options to help equip you with the skills from the beginning to move through the process. Your solicitor will advise you on how the negotiating process will work for you and, if necessary, if and when you should issue court proceedings. Your solicitor will also outline the likely timescales and overall costs.

Most importantly, at the end of any initial meeting, your solicitor will agree the next step forward with you before putting anything in to action. Depending on your circumstances the right advice for you may be to do nothing for a short time.

People are often at pains to avoid speaking to a solicitor, or alternatively make every endeavour to stop their spouse from taking legal advice. This approach will only delay and complicate matters in the long run, resulting in unnecessary legal costs for all involved.

Take control and take advice at the earliest opportunity. Once you know what your options are, you can begin making the right decisions for you and your family.