Your first meeting with a family lawyer can seem like a daunting prospect, but a great family lawyer should be able to make you welcome and at ease from the very start of your meeting. If you’re wondering what to expect at your first meeting with a family lawyer, we’ve put together this short guide for you to help you prepare.
Your First Meeting With A Family Lawyer
Discuss Your Family Situation
Your first meeting with a family lawyer is basically a fact findingdiscussion, during which the lawyer can start to assess your situation, find out what you hope to achieve, and explain what your legal rights, responsibilities and obligations are.
As each legal case is unique, you‘ll need to provide your family lawyer with as much information as possible to enable them to offer you the best possible advice and guide you through this difficult period. You’ll need to answer several questions, so the more information you can share and the more organised you are, the smoother and quicker the process will be.
Bring Important Documents
Important documents regarding family history, parenting, financial and property matters would be most useful at your first meeting with a family lawyer.
Some key documents that may help them assess your case include:
- Marriage certificate or date of when a de facto relationship began and date of separation
- Names and dates of birth of any children and any relevant medical information
- Details of employment and earnings of both parties, supported by payslips and tax returns
- Bank statements, including credit card, mortgage and loan accounts, superannuation statements, investment certificates, trusts and insurance policies
- List of expenses for you and your children, including school fees, medical costs and all other personal expenses
- Valuations or assessments of properties, businesses, inheritances, gifts and all personal assets including the family home, vehicles, jewellery, furniture and other valuables
- Balance sheet showing all assets and liabilities, both joint and individual
Also, bring any correspondence, proposals made, or agreements you may have reached with your partner. Don’t stress if you can’t provide all these documents at your initial meeting, as there will be ample time to do so later.
There will be a lot to take in, so it’s best to bring a note book or note taking app and take notes of all that’s been said.
Bring A Support Person
Preparing for a divorce or separation can be an emotional and taxing process, so it’s natural to feel nervous or apprehensive at your first legal meeting with a lawyer. Bringing a close friend or relative for support, not only helps to ease the nerves, but they may also remind you of some things you may have forgotten. Do check with your chosen family lawyer if this is OK first though.
Have A List Of Questions Ready
With emotions running high and with so much information to be absorbed, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and forget to disclose vital information or ask certain questions. Put some thought into it prior to your initial meeting with your family lawyer and have a list of questions ready, and make a note of each answer so you don’t forget what they said later.
Discuss Potential Costs
It’s wise to discuss the potential legal costs so you know how much the process may be from the outset, and you don’t end up with any surprises at the end. Costs will depend on how long the process takes.
Usually, the more you can both agree on and the quicker you reach a settlement, the less the cost of your divorce will be. Long, drawn-out divorces can be extremely taxing, both emotionally and financially for the whole family.
Consider Your Goals
For a family lawyer to be able to advise you correctly, they’ll need to know what you hope to achieve from the divorce process.
For the Family Court to approve a settlement agreement, it needs to be fair for both partners and also be in the best interests of the children. With that in mind, consider your goals, both short term and long term, drawing up your wish list, in order of preference.
Explain to your family lawyer why these goals are important to you or to your children, and which are negotiable and which are not.
Leave With Trust
After your initial meeting with a family lawyer, you should hopefully have a clearer picture of the process to come, allowing you to leave with a sense of trust and confidence that you are heading towards reaching an amicable settlement.
Are you ready to book your first meeting with a family lawyer?
Did you know here at Hickman Family Lawyers we offer a free 15-minute information call where you can find out more about how we can help you through your separation or divorce.