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What to expect in your first meeting with a family solicitor

Many of our clients are understandably apprehensive about their first meeting with a family solicitor to discuss a divorce, relationship breakdown or issues about children. 

We know that talking about your private life, finances and children can be difficult, and we aim to deal with all your concerns and fears sensitively and empathetically. What you discuss with your solicitor is confidential. Rest assured, you will never be judged, whatever your circumstance. I do not think it is possible to shock a family solicitor!

What will happen at the meeting?

Every family case is different.  An initial meeting gives your solicitor an opportunity to understand your very specific circumstances and provide you with practical advice that is tailored to your individual situation, enabling you to gain some understanding of what options are available and how matters might proceed. 

Just because you go to see a solicitor it does not mean that you have to pursue court proceedings. Initial meetings are often used to explore your rights and what options are available to you.  This allows you to make informed decisions about how you might want to proceed. We know that not everyone who goes to see a solicitor is ready to proceed. We will be clear if we think urgent action is required, but we want you to have the opportunity to reflect in your own time.  You are under no obligation.

Do I need to bring anything with me?

The vast majority of our meetings take place in our Cheltenham offices however, we are happy to offer telephone and remote video meetings for clients who live in a different country, who are not local to Cheltenham or have restrictive work commitments.  It may well be it is more convenient for you to speak to your solicitor over Zoom or Teams for example.  We can provide the technology that suits you.  For clients that prefer to meet face to face we can always accommodate this.   

If you are able to bring information with you to the initial meeting, this allows your solicitor to provide advice that is specific to your circumstances. If you have received any letters from the other person’s solicitor or documents from the court, you should bring these with you also.  

You might also find it helpful to put together a chronology of keys dates and, if you are considering a divorce with financial claims, a summary of your financial situation.

Many people bring someone with them to a first appointment for emotional support and to help with taking notes.  We understand that meeting a solicitor can feel daunting/overwhelming at times for some.  We do what we can to make you feel as comfortable as possible.  We are required to obtain ID from all of our clients for anti-money laundering purposes whether or not the advice you receive requires any financial transaction.  A list of required ID will be provided to you when you book your first meeting.


Our approach

At Hughes Paddison we have a huge wealth of experience in our Family Team and our Solicitors aim to provide expertise, reassurance and understanding at what can be, an extremely difficult time. We hope that having taken some initial advice, you will feel more confident and informed about your options, and that we will be here for you when you are ready to proceed.  


An interview with Jennifer Allen, Director in our Family Team

Q: What do you think clients worry about before they attend a first meeting with you?

A:  I think for most, it is the fear of the unknown.  Before their meeting they have a lot of information swishing around and they are worried about how they are going to make sense of it all, the next steps and how to get to an end point.  Quite often my clients will feel that their situation is a helpless or a hopeless situation and that getting through to the other side of a separation is an insurmountable task. At any first meeting I reassure my clients that there is nothing that we cannot tackle and there will be nothing that we cannot address and work through.

Q: What do you do to reassure your clients?

A: I give my clients plenty of practical and legal guidance with a strategic plan so that they can break down the journey into manageable tasks.  I take them by the hand and support them from the outset to conclusion, providing advice every step of the way.  My clients can always get hold of me.  I am also supported by Louise Rhys-Thomas who is an experienced solicitor and she dovetails and provides an excellent service so that my clients feel that they have a team of expertise surrounding them and looking after them.  My clients receive an excellent and efficient service.  This is of paramount importance when clients have urgent questions or worries that they need addressed imminently.

Q: What other concerns do you think clients might have?

A. Costs!  At every first meeting I am able to provide my client with options that are proportionate to their dispute or family problem so that they do not throw good money away.  It is important that my clients feel in control of legal fees and I provide costs information and cost estimates at the start.  It is often difficult to provide specific cost estimates at the very beginning as, it is not always clear how the matter will progress and how amicable the other party may be.  I provide my clients (with likely costs based upon my experience in the profession and over the years of assisting clients moving forward through a process).  It is important that my clients receive this information before moving forward.  I also offer my clients cost effective options.  If I am concerned my client cannot afford their legal fees, I find a solution so that they are not disadvantaged and can be represented.  Occasionally it is also necessary to sign post my clients to the government website to calculate whether or not they may be eligible for public funding.  Hughes Paddison do not provide Legal Aid or public funding.  It is therefore essential that we can sign post our clients to alternative funds who do provide this service.

Q: What do you think it most important for your clients to understand when you first meet with them?

A. Every client is different.  Every person I see has a different story.  I have been working at Hughes Paddison in our Family Team for over 15 years.  I have met hundreds of clients, done hundreds of cases and there is nothing that will shock me.  Clients should not feel embarrassed or afraid to ask questions.  There is no such thing as a silly question.  I want my clients to feel free and comfortable to tell me everything and anything that is of concern to them so I can provide them with full and clear advice.  I also think it is important for my clients to know that when they instruct me, I will be completely committed to achieving the best resolution for them and their family.

Are you looking for some advice?

If you would like to arrange an initial meeting, please feel free to contact a member of our Family Law Department on 01242 574244 and we will be happy to meet you and discuss your situation.

Contact our experts for further advice

The information contained on this page has been prepared for the purpose of this blog/article only. The content should not be regarded at any time as a substitute for taking legal advice.