Preparing for your divorce appointment – what do I need to bring with me?
In order to assist clients with their initial divorce and finance appointments, I thought it useful to list some of the things that would be helpful for the solicitor to have at that first divorce appointment. This is not an exhaustive list because everyone’s circumstances are very individual but I hope it assists some in preparing for their divorce consultation. I am often told that there is apprehension around an initial divorce consultation and around what the divorce lawyer may ask or what documents are needed to start a divorce, so, hopefully, this will allay some concerns.
Those that have received correspondence from solicitors already, whether that be a draft divorce petition or a letter from the other party’s solicitors, it will be imperative that you provide this correspondence to the solicitor beforehand so that they can provide advice on the contents.
Details of the marriage
Full names of both parties, as detailed on the marriage certificate, would be helpful for your solicitor so that they have the details ready if they are instructed to draft a divorce petition. Further, if you have the marriage certificate, it would be helpful to provide this to your solicitor as it will be required to start your divorce petition. The date of the marriage is important so that the solicitor knows the length of the marriage when discussing financial settlement but also so that the solicitor has the date ready for the drafting of the petition.
In order to advise a client, the solicitor will need to know the date of the separation. The solicitor may also ask for information as to why you have separated. This can often be very sensitive and emotive but if you have the right solicitor for you, they will make you feel at ease with this and, certainly, if you instruct them, you will build a relationship with them throughout the divorce process. The solicitor requires this information to enable them to advise you on how to begin your divorce.
In order for a solicitor to advise, they will require information about your current assets and liabilities. It is important to go into your appointment with as much information as possible. However, sometimes there will be only very limited information that is known, and please do not feel you cannot have the appointment if this is the case. Your solicitor will advise you the best they can with the information they have.
Property – your solicitor will want to know the full addresses of all property owned by the parties either jointly or in sole names. If the property is owned jointly, a couple can own it as joint tenants or tenants in common. This is often something that people do not know so if this isn’t known, it can easily be obtained at a later date. The solicitor will want to know full details of the properties, i.e. when the property was bought, how much it was bought for, any recent valuation of the property, whether there is already any agreement on sale or transfer, mortgage details including the amount owed, the mortgage lender, if there is a fixed term etc. All of these details will assist the solicitor in providing advice.
Pensions – your solicitor will want to know whether either of you has any pensions and whether these were accumulated prior to the marriage, during the marriage or after separation. The solicitor will want to know the value of the pension which is also known as the cash equivalent transfer values (CETV). It is likely that you may not know this prior to your appointment but it will be something that you will need to obtain at some point during the divorce process, so it would be a good idea to obtain it as soon as you can. Further, if any of the pensions are in drawdown, information on the income received from these would be helpful.
Income – your solicitor will likely ask for details of all income received from employment / business / benefits / pension / child maintenance etc and, therefore, having these to hand for both parties would be helpful. Details of employers and length of service may also be beneficial, as well as any benefits received from employers such as bonuses.
Bank accounts / Savings / Shares – your solicitor will likely want to know of details of any joint / sole accounts, whether that be standard accounts or savings / ISA’s and the balances of those accounts. Information on any shares / life insurance policies would also be helpful.
Anything else – your solicitor may ask if there are any other assets that either of you has, over an amount of £500 as these may be included as part of any financial settlement, i.e. cars, jewellery, sports equipment etc.
When discussing divorce and finances with your solicitor, they will want to know if there are any children between you or if there are any other children involved. Contact issues can often arise during separation so you may need advice on this, but also child maintenance is an important provision. The solicitor will likely ask for full names and dates of birth.
Your solicitor will not expect you to have all of this information, and, certainly, you will still be able to have your appointment and receive advice without it all. This is simply a guide to prepare you for the kinds of things your solicitor will ask you during the appointment and will likely ask you to obtain after the appointment if you instruct them. At Everys, your initial divorce consultation will enable your solicitor to get a snapshot of the relationship and the finances so they can advise you on the process, what will be required throughout, discuss any potential financial settlement and also provide advice on costs and time estimates.
At Everys we offer a fixed fee of £99 plus VAT initial appointment for all aspects of family law. These are currently being held remotely via telephone or Microsoft Teams with a solicitor. If you are interested in an appointment for some initial advice please do not hesitate to contact us.