Some will say it’s the details that matter, the full name, address, bank account details, children's ages, soon-to-be-ex partner’s solicitor credentials etc, but, really I think it is honesty that is most important when briefing a lawyer who is going to act for you in a divorce. This is especially true if you want the process to be as fast and painless as possible which surely is what most people must want, whether it ends up being like that or not.
A family solicitor cannot act in your best interests if he doesn’t know the whole story. If you aren’t totally open, it can end up being a bit like painting in the dark. You may well get the job done but no one is going to be particularly happy with the end result – and you may need to spend more money rectifying the worst spots.
So honesty should be the starting point, but what are the three most crucial things that you should tell your solicitor when briefing them at the start of divorce proceedings?
- Tell your lawyer what is most important to you. What are your priorities? Do you want things to go through as quickly as possible? Is it important that your costs are contained? Do you want the children issues settled before finances are addressed? Telling your lawyer these things up front gives them clarity on which approach to take and the advice you will need along the way.
- What are your expectations? If you start form a standpoint of “I want the house, kids and all his money”, an experienced family lawyer will be able to manage those expectations of both the outcome and the process. This will lead to a more amiable relationship as the client is not expecting something at the end of the process that is highly unlikely.
- Be clear about your financial circumstances. There are two reasons for this. One, it can help with negotiation. The financial circumstances a person finds themselves in in a break-up can impact the final settlement. Secondly, if you are not open, and are “hiding” money that should be considered in the division of assets, it could be illegal.
Honesty really is the best policy – in divorce as well as in marriage.