The first thing we’d like to acknowledge is that we know coming to this decision in the first place mustn’t have been easy. It never is.

Contacting a law firm to speak with a solicitor that specialises in this field is a big decision, and one that means you have come to the harsh reality that your family can’t continue in the way it has been functioning. Somewhere along the line your marriage or relationship has broken down, and reconciling is not a genuine prospect anymore, but there are still several issues that need to be resolved, with arrangements for children often being the case.

We also understand that paying for the guidance and advice of a solicitor doesn’t come easy to some families, as sometimes it can be a cost that can’t be afforded or a strain on your financial circumstances. With that in mind, the family law experts here at Dootsons have provided some top tips to ensure you get the most out of your initial meeting.

What do you want to discuss?

Before you attend your meeting, make sure you have a list of points / main concerns you’d like to discuss. Sometimes you might be limited to a 30 minute appointment, so it’s a good idea to be realistic about what you’ll be able to discuss in that time.

Usually in shorter meetings, they’re used to provide a general overview of the law. Appointment that are longer are more likely to cover strategy and offer specific advice.

Preparation is key

As with most things in life, the more you prepare before the event takes place, the better equipped you are.

Keeping a record or diary of key events / things that have happened will help your solicitor to assess the problems and any potential patterns of behaviour. This could be how you and your partner met, when you started to live together, when you had your children, date(s) of separation, financials, or any agreements reached verbally and formally.

The more information you can provide your solicitor with, the more they’ll be able to gain an understanding of the situation and highlight the main issues.

This type of detail can help save some time and is also helpful to have should it be necessary you go to court.

Consider the practicalities and schedules

When there are children involved, it can really help to spend time considering arrangements you think could work. Here at Dootsons, we’ll provide you with common sharing patterns, but you have to remember that there are no fixed rules when it comes to this. Every family is different. You and your partner need to work to find the best solution for your children’s individual needs, as well as your own.

Take your time and make sure it’s the right fit

The first part of this is an age-old piece of advice that still rings true in any situation. Take your time to reflect on everything. Decisions don’t have to be made straight away. Make sure you’ve asked as many questions as possible. The more information a solicitor can provide you with, the more informed your decision-making will be.

Sometimes, there can be too much to take in, so having a supportive friend or member of your family can be an extra pair of ears for you, just in case you miss anything.

You might think the second part of this advice is a bit strange, but we feel it’s one of the most important. Make sure the person representing you is right for you. Having your case dealt with in a positive manner by an experienced solicitor, will help to minimise any potential animosity between the two parties.

Ainsley, who is the Senior Family Law Solicitor and Head of Department here at Dootsons, is a member of Resolution, which is a body of law professionals who are committed to minimising conflict and stress for those involved, especially when it impacts children. This is an exceptional attribute to have for these types of legal matters.

Consider all the options and be realistic

Look at and consider every route of resolving your case as amicably as possible. Even if this isn’t possible, it’s still vital that you understand the full picture.

We’ll always guide and advise you to the best outcome, but you need to be prepared for both the worst and best scenarios alike.

Work out the costs and explore any funding options

Not only do you want to know the cost of your initial meeting, but you’ll also want to get an idea of the amount you will have to pay for the full process. Even before this point is brought up, don’t feel awkward about asking questions about it as it is crucial that you can fund your case from start to finish.

For any further information or if you are in need of family law advice, get in touch with our experienced and friendly team at Dootsons. Call us on 01942 673431 or email