I could see Tracy was nervous when she sat down in my office.  It was our first meeting as she had booked an initial fixed fee consultation and she was clearly worried.

“Tell me about your situation,” I invited her – and the floodgates opened.

She was in a relationship that clearly wasn’t working to the point where her husband was threatening her with all kinds of dire outcomes if they split up.

“He says that I won’t get anything as I’m working, but we couldn’t afford the mortgage and all the kids’ stuff if I didn’t work,” she said, almost in tears.  “If I can’t afford to pay for somewhere for me and the kids, I’m afraid he’ll get custody and he said that I won’t see them if he has anything to do with it.”

To add to her worries, Tracy had a friend whose children were ordered to live with their father, so she saw it as a real danger.

She felt trapped in the relationship because she didn’t know where to go or where she stood in the short-term “I need to get out,” she said “but I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

When the whole story and all her worries were out, she clearly felt a bit better – but still worried about what she had been told by both her husband and friends.

“Let’s start at the beginning – every case is different and whatever your friends or other people have experienced doesn’t mean that’s going to happen in your case,” I reassured her.

We discussed her situation and what she could – and should – do to protect herself and her family.

After more than an hour of discussion Tracy knew what was true – and what wasn’t – so some of the things her husband was saying didn’t threaten her any more.  Knowing her legal situation meant she had the confidence to make decisions.

Towards the end of our session I discovered that we weren’t the first solicitor Tracy had consulted.  Money was tight so she had gone to another practice for a free 30-minute consultation.  The result of her consultation was that she had explained her situation and had been told ‘Yes, we can help you, but you will need to book a further consultation with us before we can give advice.’  Although our initial consultation was not free, it was a fixed fee so she knew where she stood – and she got the advice she needed during our meeting and in writing afterwards so that she could refer back to it when needed

I gave Tracy an idea of the costs of a divorce and what the process was likely to include so she knew where she stood.  While her problem was not solved, at least she knew the facts and could decide on what her next steps would be.

If one person in a failing relationship gets legal advice and the other doesn’t, it can result in either their ex-partner scaring them or agreeing something which they later regret.  Taking advice helps you understand what is and isn’t true and allows you to make informed decisions for you and your family without feeling threatened.