Divorce Lawyers – what to expect during your first consultation

January 9, 2024
Family Law
couple with divorce laywer

Looking for a Divorce Lawyer in Johannesburg? Our professional team at Witz Inc. Family Law Department are ready to assist you with the right legal solution for your needs.

Whether you have already moved out of the home you shared with your spouse or you’re preparing for what might possibly come, there are a couple of important things to know about your first meeting with a divorce lawyer. Meeting with a divorce lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to get divorced it may mean that you want to be informed about your options and in this case, knowledge is power.

Here’s what you can expect when engaging the services of our Family Law professionals.

The first thing to remember is that we are people too! We understand what has brought you to this point and we hope to help you through this challenging time in your life. We assure you that in our office, there is no judgement.

Before your first meeting with your divorce lawyer, we would advise that you spend some time and think about what you would like to get out of the consultation and write down any questions that you have. The reason for this is you may feel overwhelmed during the meeting and forget to ask the questions that you have been wanting to ask.

Questions you may want to ask your divorce lawyer

Some examples of question that you may want to ask are:

  1. Do I have to move out of the shared household?
  2. What are my options if I fear for my safety?
  3. Is it possible for my spouse to contribute towards my legal expenses?
  4. How will I be supported if I am not the breadwinner?
  5. Who will my children live with?
  6. Does my partner have to consult with their own attorney?

Attorney-client privilege

It’s important that you feel comfortable with your chosen divorce lawyer and that you have a good relationship your divorce attorney as you will be sharing very intimate details of your life with him or her. Don’t worry about your attorney spilling the beans about your life to his her or her friends or on the golf course, as everything you discuss with your attorney is protected by “legal professional privilege”. With this being said, this attorney-client privilege does not extend to third parties, including anyone you may bring with you to a consultation, so it may be better to come to the consultation alone.

Diligent record keeping is important

In situations where divorce is on the cards, we would suggest that your preparation for the meeting with your divorce lawyer is not the only homework you should be doing. We would suggest that you start keeping good, comprehensive records of your finances as well as any incidents of relevance. We would rather you be over prepared than be compromised at a later stage due to a loss of evidence.

Documents to bring with to your consultation with a divorce lawyer

  • Your marriage certificate.
  • A copy of your antenuptial contract (if applicable).
  • Any legal process that you have received from your partner or their attorney.
  • Any other documents that you have questions about.

What your divorce lawyer will cover with you in your first consultation

Just as you have goals for the first meeting, so too does your divorce lawyer. From your lawyer’s perspective, the aim of a first consult is to ensure that you leave your first consultation with an understanding of the following issues:

  • The divorce process.
    How the court works and what the anticipated timeline will be in your matter.
  • The patrimonial consequences of the dissolution of your marriage.
    This is the impact your divorce will have on your finances and your estate.
  • The non-patrimonial consequences of the dissolution of your marriage.
    How the divorce will affect your children and your lifestyle.
  • The best way to achieve your objective and the alternatives.
    Deciding whether your matter is of a litigious nature or whether settlement is an option.
    Alternative dispute resolution options will also be discussed with you.
  • The anticipated fees and costs of divorce.

There is no one size fits all approach to divorce, and as such it is tremendously important to be open and honest with your lawyer. As we at Witz Inc. say “live in the sun”. We will walk you through the best options that are applicable to your matter and what will work best for you.

Your reasons for wanting a divorce

In order to do this, we will need to know the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage and what is most important to you going forward. Full transparency with your divorce lawyer will make for the most effective representation. If you don’t tell your lawyer something, there is always a possibility it is raised at a later stage by the other side.

If it is easier for you to put your thoughts to paper, we will gladly consider your statement before your meeting, this may also be helpful to relay your family’s situation if you are still coming to terms with the breakdown of your marriage.

If you are still considering this divorce perhaps it would not be a good idea to tell your partner that you are meeting with a divorce lawyer, however, in some cases it may be beneficial to have full transparency with your partner so that they do not feel deceived or blindsided. We will leave that decision up to you as you know your partner better than anyone else.

Considering what is best for your future

Consulting with a divorce lawyer does not mean that you have to follow through with the full legal process; it may help guide you as to what is important to you and give you clarity on what is best for you and your future. A consultation with us will most certainly provide you with the tools to make informed and educated decisions.

Setting up a consultation with a divorce lawyer

Please contact us and we’ll set up an appointment to meet with us to explore your options or to begin divorce proceedings. We would love to be of service to you.