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Making the most of your first meeting with a family lawyer

Making the most of your first meeting with a family lawyer

Making the most of your first meeting with a family lawyer

When the reality dawns upon you that a relationship breakdown is inevitable sometimes one of the hardest decisions to make is going to see a family lawyer. Some clients see it as a real turning point in their relationship.

It is important to remember that seeking advice from a family lawyer does not have to signal the end of your relationship. Some clients may not yet have reached the final conclusion that their marriage or relationship is at an end and may want some early advice about their options. Even for those currently separated reconciliation can still remain a realistic and viable option. An initial meeting with a family lawyer does not commit you to taking matters forward. However, early advice can assist you in making an informed decision about your future and the future of your relationship.

The first meeting with a family lawyer is important for both the client and the lawyer. It is important for the client as it is an opportunity to meet with the person who is likely to work on your case and you will begin to build up a rapport of trust and confidence in the lawyer. For the lawyer it is important to understand what the client is ultimately seeking so that their expectations can be managed from the outset.

What should I bring?

Ahead of your initial meeting you will be asked to provide copies of photographic ID together with proof of address. You may also be asked to send in some other documents, for example copies of any previous court orders that have been made, deeds of trust, pre/post-nuptial agreements and any existing parenting plans.


We live in a techy world and so many gadgets that we now own are all synced. To ensure matters are kept confidential it is important to ensure that the lines of communication between you and your lawyer cannot be intercepted or read by anyone else. It is crucial to make sure that you either set up a new email address for legal correspondence or consider changing your password to your email address if your partner is likely to have access to your emails.

Data Sheet

Ahead of your first meeting with a lawyer, you will be asked to complete a data sheet which provides key information about your relationship and family dynamic. It is crucial that this is completed in advance of the meeting to ensure that your meeting is as informative as it can be. The lawyer will then be able to tailor their advice to your individual circumstances which will be much more helpful to you.

Information – key dates

Ahead of the first meeting, have a think about the chronology of key dates and events that have taken place over the course of your relationship.  When did you meet, move in together and marry? When were properties purchased and how were they funded? Have you lived abroad for any part of the relationship? If there are children, what is the balance of caregiving and how is this divided between you and your partner?

What are your objectives?

In advance of your meeting, it is important to consider what you are seeking in both the long and short term. What are your priorities.  What matters to you most and what would you be willing to compromise on. These can include having a secure home for you and the children and maintaining an amicable relationship with your former partner. We understand the benefit of preserving positive relationships between you and your former partner for the benefit of you both but also for the sake of any children involved.

What do you want to know?

There is a lot of information to take in during your initial meeting and given that it may be emotionally charged, it would be best for you to note down in advance any specific questions that you would like to raise. Not all questions can be answered at the initial meeting as some answers rely on the way that your former partner is likely to react, or further information may be required regarding your respective financial positions.

The lawyer will endeavour to set out the various processes that are open to you and to answer as many questions as possible to provide you with enough information upon which to make any further decisions.


We understand that costs are a big concern for clients. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with broad estimates as to potential fees to give you an idea as to what will be required.

At IBB we will offer you a fixed cost first meeting so that you can get to know your lawyer before you decide whether to trust them with your legal matters. Moving forward, as with most reputable law firms, you will be asked to place money on account of future work and you will be billed monthly. We provide full costs estimates at the outset of the case and will continue to update you any changes to those estimates.

Emotional Support

The value of emotional support during a relationship breakdown should not be underestimated. This is undoubtedly a difficult and very emotional time for you and having somebody that you can trust to speak to will be helpful. The breakdown of a relationship has been likened to the grieving process, you will have good days and bad days, but knowing that you always have someone to offload to will be hugely beneficial.

If you do not feel that you are able to fully offload to a trusted family member or friend, your lawyer will be able to recommend divorce coaches who can assist.

Good Divorce Week is an annual campaign run by Resolution that focuses on limiting conflict in divorce. The aim is to encourage couples experiencing divorce to try to address the issues they face in the best way possible. 

Speak to our Family Law experts

For more information, speak to our specialist Family lawyers on 01895 207882 or email Javita Malhotra on: javita.malhotra@ibblaw.co.uk.