If there really is no going back and you are seriously considering divorce proceedings, here are some tips for taking the next steps.

1. Choose a good solicitor. It might seem obvious but it is essential you choose a solicitor you feel comfortable talking to and able to confide in. After all you will be sharing very personal information with them so they can help you realise and achieve your goals following your separation.

I offer a free initial appointment, as do most solicitors, so my clients can meet with me to discuss their individual circumstances and to put them at ease during this, what can be, a very traumatic time.

Most of my customers come recommended by previous customers of mine and it might be worthwhile speaking to friends and family to see if they can recommend someone, that personal connection may make you feel more comfortable.

2. Take a list of questions with you and make sure that you get answers in plain English that you fully understand. This will allow you to take away the information you need to make a decision about the next steps you want to take.

3. Do not feel pressured into taking a course of action that you do not feel comfortable with. The whole purpose of instructing a solicitor is for you to get advice on what the law says you can and can't do and for your solicitor to work with you to achieve the outcome you want within the limits of the law. If you choose not to follow their advice they should respect your instructions. They have done their job and provided you with the advice. You may be asked to sign a disclaimer to confirm you have received their advice but have chosen not to follow it.

4. You should have a clear discussion about costs and you should get the solicitor to explain how they charge and what they think it will cost to get your matter sorted. They should provide you with regular cost updates throughout the course of your matter so you can keep track and budget accordingly. I also like to talk about how we can both work together more cost effectively such as communicating lots of issues in one email so you are only charged for one email in.

5. Don't be afraid of taking someone with you to the appointment. You will receive a lot of information from your solicitor so it's good to have 2 pairs of ears listening and will be helpful to you after the meeting as you can talk the advice you have received through with friends and family. I am more than happy to allow someone else into the first meeting with a customer as I realise it can be daunting meeting a solicitor for the first time.

I cannot emphasise the importance of getting legal advice at the start of separating from your spouse so you know what divorce and financial separation entails so you can make the choices that are right for you.

If you would like to have an informal chat with me about any aspect of separating or divorcing then please don't hesitate to get in touch with me through Oratto.