And if you’ve never even spoken to a lawyer before, it can seem pretty daunting prospect too. What do you need and where do you start?
All professional family solicitors understand these difficult emotions and work hard to be reassuring and to make sure prospective clients fully understand all the options open to them.
Preparing for the meeting
One thing that can make that first appointment easier is knowing just what to expect, whether it’s in person meeting or conducted over Zoom. So, what exactly will the solicitor want from you at that first meeting? What information will her or she need?
First and foremost, they will need a broad outline of your circumstances. There is no need to go into great detail, but do be prepared to provide the key facts – what prompted the decision to divorce for example, along with the most important considerations, such as whether or not you have children. It is also important to mention any agreements you have already reached, and to provide some idea of your assets. This will all enable the solicitor to provide with you with reliable, personalised advice on the best route forward, along with a realistic estimate of the costs and a likely timeframe for the proceedings.
No need for reasons
Do note that there is no longer any need to cite a particular reason or to prove separation when applying for a divorce in England and Wales. The law changed in April 2022: now you simply need to make a formal statement that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, and you can even do so jointly with your spouse. This has been dubbed ‘no fault divorce’, since many of the reasons available under the previous legislation did attribute fault.
It is also no longer possible to ‘defend’ a divorce, meaning your partner cannot legally object or obstruct the process. Although rare, this did occasionally happen under the previous legislation.
It is sensible to let the solicitor know at your first meeting if you have experienced any violence or abuse in the relationship: they will then be able to recommend appropriate legal measures for your protection.
In addition to general information on your circumstances, your solicitor will also need copies of your passport and marriage certificate. These may not be necessary at the first meeting if you are only making very preliminary enquiries, but they will be required sooner rather than later if you do decide to proceed.