Does having a first meeting with a divorce lawyer mean that your marriage is over ?

“Does having a first meeting with a divorce lawyer mean that your marriage is over ?” I will discuss today’s topic using the following hypothetical scenario:

The client – Joan – has delayed coming in to see the divorce lawyer – Liz Smith for – for precisely this reason. Joan is not ready yet to end the marriage. Also, Joan thinks she will have to retain Liz for the whole case if she decides to proceed. Both assumptions are incorrect, for the following reasons:

So the answer, Dear Readers, is a resounding No! The initial consultation does not mean the marriage is over! In fact, for many people, it’s a positive experience.

Of course, the decision to schedule the first meeting with a lawyer is a difficult one, and takes immense courage in the face of the stressful situation they are in.

However, I’m pleased to say that almost always in my 37 years of practice, I have found that once a person takes this initial step, her/his demeanour changes in the course of our meeting, from sad, fearful and as if under a dark cloud, to more confident and as if the cloud has lifted and the sun’s come out!

In our scenario, Joan leaves the meeting in a far better place than she was at the start. She now has the information she needs to be able to decide whether to stay in the marriage or leave, or she can keep her new information in her back pocket to take out perhaps at a later date. To use the old adage: “Knowledge is Power!”

In addition, as Joan has a good feeling about Liz, she has taken care of a key matter when one separates: the decision as to whom her lawyer will be.

© Anne E. Freed, June 2018

Anne is a 37-year family law lawyer who practises family law, mediation, and collaborative law. Anne can be contacted at or 416-368-0700. Visit