Ten tips to help you prepare

Being part of a family court case is emotional and hard for most people. Getting legal help early is a good idea. You can meet with a legal adviser when you know your case is going to court. You can arrange for a one off fixed fee, or even a free meeting. You can choose from different types of legal advisers. You will have limited time with your legal adviser.

To get the most from your meeting, you need to prepare well.  Here are our top ten tips:

  1. Before the first meeting with your legal adviser, ask if they offer a free first meeting. If not, ask how much the meeting will cost in total (including VAT) and how long it will last.
  2. Take all necessary items and papers with you to the meeting. Use the document checklist to see what documents you may require.
  3. Find the date of your next court hearing to tell your legal adviser.
  4. Make notes of what you want to say and questions you want to ask. You might want to talk this over with someone you trust.
  5. Make a note of the people you talk to who are involved in your case. This could be a social worker, ex-partner, or legal adviser for the opposing party. Make a note of the person's name, what you both said and the date when you talked.
  6. Make a note of the name and contact details of people who could give information to the court to help the judge decide what should happen – particularly in children cases. This may be a friend, relative, teacher, or doctor.
  7. If you want to start a divorce or end your civil partnership, take your marriage or civil partnership certificate with you.
  8. If you are involved in a financial case, you will need to fill in a Form E before meeting your legal adviser. Form E tells the court about your finances. If you have a Form E from your ex-partner, take that with you.
  9. You and your ex-partner may have agreed how you will divide your finances and want legal help to get a court order. You may have reached agreement through mediation – when you and your ex-partner discuss a settlement with the help of a mediator. If so, take your mediation agreement and other papers with you.
  10. Remember, the more you help your legal adviser, the more they can help you. Make the most of your meeting.

Document checklist

  • Identification documents
    • Your legal adviser will need to see documents which prove your identity. Make sure you ask your legal adviser what documents you need to bring.
  • Papers and electronic documents relating to your case. These could include:
    • Letters
    • Reports
    • Statements
    • Mediation papers
    • Court papers
    • Court orders
    • Court applications
    • Court statements
    • Court forms
    • Email and other electronic documents

Try to sort your papers by type or date. If you have emails about your case, take a device that you can read them on, or make paper copies of important papers.

Form E advice

  • Fill in as much of the Form E as you can, even if you want the legal adviser to help you fill in some parts of the form.
  • Gather financial documents to support your form. There is a list of all the documents you need on the last page of the Form E.
  • You may need to ask organisations to send you documents or other information, for example, a pension valuation or life insurance value. Request your documents as early as possible.
  • For further help, visit the Advicenow website