When is it time to see a family lawyer?
You might think the only time you need to consult with a family lawyer is when you decide to get divorced. However, there are other times in life when a consultation with a family lawyer might be extremely useful.
Here are 4 different situations where it would be useful to see a family lawyer for advice, guidance or assistance.
Before Getting Married
The best time to see a family lawyer is before getting married. They will advise both partners on their legal rights and obligations, should the marriage fail in the future.
Knowing exactly what is required, and putting in place agreements to protect the interests of both parties, removes all uncertainties, paving the way for a smoother marriage and achieving peace of mind.
Family lawyers strongly advocate the drawing up of Binding Financial Agreements (BFA) before marriage, in which all terms, tailor-made to suit your needs and circumstances, are clearly laid out. This can help to protect your assets, preventing much anxiety, time and money for both parties, should the marriage fail. A BFA can still be drawn up at any stage of the marriage though.
Family lawyers can sometimes also assist you to plan your estate, or refer you to specialist estate planning lawyers.
Before or During Separation
It is best to see a family lawyer the moment you realise that your marriage or relationship may be heading for a separation. There’s no need to wait for the actual separation before seeking legal advice. There are so many issues that need to be addressed correctly, and as dynamics would have changed somewhat, further legal advice may be most useful.
Family lawyers will advise you on matters such as whether you should stay in the family home or move out, which bills to continue paying, which bank accounts to access or close, and what steps to take to protect your assets. If there will be children who will need to be cared for and for parenting arrangements to be made, they could point out what you need to consider here too.
All these issues may seem simple under normal circumstances, but not so when emotions are running high, like they can do during a marriage breakdown.
Then, there are more complex issues to decide upon, such as reviewing your estate plan, calculating your combined assets, debts and personal financial and non-financial contributions accumulated during your marriage. All these need to be carried out carefully and precisely, to finally work out how your assets will be split.
The sooner you obtain legal and financial advice the better.
During The Divorce Process
A family lawyer is the best person to advise you on how you can divorce simply and cost-effectively. Lawyers can have a reputation for just wanting to bill you for as many hours as they can, so finding a trusted family lawyer that actually wants to get you a fair outcome in the fastest time possible is crucial to a successful divorce process.
There are basically two main options to consider when it comes to the divorce process:
If there are children under 18 years of age involved, Australian Family Law requires divorcing couples to first attempt mediation before proceeding to the Family Court.
This is the quickest, least costly and most used option in Australia, although that may not always be the best option in some cases. Lawyer-assisted mediation is an alternate option, in which both parties may seek the advice of their own family lawyers for an added level of protection during mediation.
Through the Court
Unlike mediation, where you both make your own decisions and reach your own settlement, by going through the Family Court, a Magistrate or Judge will make the final decision for you on the matters you present to the Court.
This option may be best suited to your case, but it can become a costly affair for both parties, if allowed to continue for a long period of time, and you may not get an outcome which you think is fair.
Ad Hoc Legal Advice
If you cannot afford a family lawyer from start to finish, the other option is to seek ad hoc advice, particularly on important matters, if and when you need it. When one considers the severity of the matter, and what is actually at stake, the money spent on receiving solid legal advice, seems a small price to pay.
Nobody enters into a marriage or a relationship with the idea that it will end in separation, but the unfortunate reality is that many do. When relationships fail without the correct agreements being put in place, and without the correct legal advice, a divorce may end an extremely costly and most stressful affair for the entire family. It is therefore highly recommended to see a family lawyer and obtain legal advice as early as possible once the need arises.
Chat to the experienced team of family lawyers in Perth at Hickman Family Lawyers today.
We can help you no matter what stage of life you’re at – whether you need help with drawing up a binding financial agreement before you get married, or you’re thinking about mediation as an option for your divorce settlement agreements.