By Jessica Coles-Black
Separating from your former spouse is one of the most stressful events you can go through. There are a number of things that you will need to consider in order to finalise your separation, including legal representation. You may also have never engaged or spoken with a lawyer before, which can add to your stress.
We have put together some tips below to help you prepare for your first appointment with your family lawyer.
Stowe Family Law, a leading family law firm in the UK, provides some tips to help you prepare for your first appointment with your family lawyer. These tips also apply to Australian lawyers.
We have taken some of Stowe Family Law’s best tips and added some of our own to help you understand and prepare for your family law meeting:
- Consider what you want on an interim and final basis
Our job is to provide you with advice on how the law applies to your circumstances and to work with you to achieve your desired outcomes.
It is helpful, not only to your lawyer, but for yourself, if you have an idea of what you wish to achieve both on a temporary and final basis.
We understand that separation can be extremely stressful and painful. However, there are some things that you should consider before your appointment include:
- What amount of time should each parent spend with the children, that is in the children’s best interests?
- How should this time occur? Should it be gradual leading to a final care arrangement?
- Is there any risk of physical or emotional harm to you or the children?
- What property do you wish to retain?
- Do you have the ability to refinance a mortgage if you want to keep for the former matrimonial home?
You do not need definitive answers to what you want to achieve in your separation, but it will assist both you and your lawyer to have a goal to work towards, even if that goal changes over time.
- Be prepared for the meeting
Whilst lawyers may enjoy their own company, we understand that many clients want speedy resolutions. It will assist your lawyer if you can complete some research prior to your meeting. The following information will always be use in your first meeting:
- the estimated values of all assets and debts that you and your former spouse have. This includes such things like:
- houses, cars, boats, bank accounts, credit cards, shareholdings, trusts, companies, and superannuation
- the chattels that you wish to retain or are happy for your former spouse to have
- any previous or current court orders or parenting arrangements
Whilst your lawyer is unlikely to require documents of the above details at the first meeting, it is likely that you will be required to provide information later, such as a superannuation statements or bank account statements.
- Ask questions
A part of our job is to help guide you through the legal process to finalise your separation. Whilst we are experts in family law, we understand that most of the legal expressions, requirements and/or process will be new to you and you will have a lot of questions.
It is important that if you have any questions or do not understand something, that you ask your lawyer. We are here to support you and take as much of the stress of your separation from you. Your lawyer will not mind answering any of your questions, no matter how big or small.
- Try not to worry
If you are unsure as to what you want, what questions you should ask or it is all a bit too much, do not worry, we can help you. We will try to take as much of the stress of your separation from you that we can. You are also welcome to bring a support person if it will assist you.
It is our job to extract from you the relevant information about your separation and present you with the options that are available to you.
You should leave the meeting more informed about things to consider to finalise your separation, as well as realistic pathways forward.
If you need advice in relation to separation, including initiating or ongoing litigation, please contact Rowan Skinner & Associates Lawyers to arrange a complimentary 15-minute consultation.