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What Happens at the First Consultation

Separation or Divorce

The first consultation in a matrimonial matter covers many aspects of the law.  Three key aspects are covered during the consultation. These are:

Family Law

There are three areas of Substantive Family Law to advise on.

  • Custody and Access
  • Equalization of Assets
  • Child and Spousal Support

Please refer to Support articles or Custody FAQ for more detail.


  • Advise as to the processes available to resolve the matter (see Processes in Family Law)
  • Advise as to what might be appropriate process for Client’s particular case.
  • Advise as to the divorce process.
  • Advise as to what is contained in a Separation Agreement.

Client / Lawyer Relationship

A good working relationship between the client and the lawyer, especially in family law matters, will result in a better outcome, a smoother process, a lower account and a satisfied client.

Each of our responsibilities will be clarified during the consultation but for further information please see my article on “Client and Lawyer Relationship

Below is a summary of the points covered in the first consultation :

Explain the basic legal principles of Family Law.
Obtain basic facts.
Understand what the Client wants to achieve.
Obtain more detailed facts
Give basic opinion as to what Client can achieve.
Advise as to legal process.
Discuss Lawyer Client relationship.
Provide and explain Family Law Manual; print Client's Financial Statement.
Discuss fees, payment and retainer.
Advise as to ancillary issues :
  • Reconciliation
  • Marriage counselling
  • Tax
  • Child Tax Benefit
  • Seeing other people
  • Name change
  • CPP
  • Will, Life Insurance, RRSPs, house ownership
  • Credit cards, bank accounts, loans
  • Limitation periods
  • Personal counselling
  • Expectations
  • Enforcement
  • Offers and binding agreements
Produce a letter to Spouse or Spouse’s Lawyer if appropriate.
Confirm what Lawyer and Client will each do next and set next appointment.
Confirm what information and documents Client must obtain.
Requisition to Open File and Obtain Signed Retainer
  • Confirm Client’s identity as required by The Law Society of Upper Canada
  • Complete Requisition to Open File Form
  • Discuss and obtain signed retainer and money retainer or credit card authorization
  • Conclude business