1. How long after separating should I see a lawyer?
Some people require immediate assistance from a lawyer. This may be because a partner has removed significant funds from a bank account, has refused to return children, has refused a person any access to money or refused access to property.
For others, they may have reached an impasse in negotiations or not be able to communicate with the other party.
Everyone should obtain legal advice. The best time is when you are in the right frame of mind to have a frank conversation about your situation and prior to having any conversation, negotiations or reaching any agreements with your partner.
Even if you just take initial advice back to an amicable partner, this will assist all parties in knowing where they stand and knowing how they can move forward.
2. Will I be locked in?
All of our first appointments are obligation free. We charge a one off flat fee for the appointment and you leave not having to ever come back.
Within the appointment we may discuss with you options of how to carry your matter forward without legal representation and will often make suggestions of steps that can be taken without having a lawyer.
We may also discuss the possibility of entering into a Cost Agreement with our firm if you require further representation. After the appointment has taken place we will post a Cost Agreement to you and it will be your decision to sign and return the agreement. Save for sending the Cost Agreement, we generally do not contact you again – we wait to hear from you.
3. What can we discuss at the first appointment?
All first appointments are different – depending on where a person is at with their separation. In the initial stages of a separation advice might be required in respect to accessing money, housing or immediate difficulties that they are facing with respect to arrangements with the children.
Sometimes people will arrive to us with a plan as to how property will be divided or an idea of what they wish to retain. In that case we will discuss whether that is a possibility and avenues they may wish to explore and a method in which we can assist them achieving their settlement.
Sometimes people will have been separated for a long period of time or may have little idea of what there is to separate or how to communicate with the other party. In that case we can advise them of options of what to consider and discuss with them how we can assist with communication and deciphering what is available to separate.
Sometimes parties will already be in the Family Court or have already received communication from a lawyer and require assistance with how to respond and how to deal with the Family Court process.
Each appointment is tailored to the needs and questions of the individual.
4. What should I bring to the appointment?
If the matter is already in the Family Court or you have received correspondence from another lawyer, you should bring all of those documents with you.
You should arm yourself with knowledge of your financial situation and have an idea of bank account balances, house and mortgage values, superannuation values and values of any other significant asset you or your partner owns.
If there is a parenting agreement or documents that are significant to the questions you have you should bring those with you as well.
You may find it helpful to have a list of questions or some dot points of matters you wish to discuss, this will ensure you don’t forget to ask anything.
5. Will I have to go to Court if I see a lawyer?
Unless a matter is in Court or there are significantly urgent matters that are unable to be dealt with in any other way we will never immediately suggest that a matter should go to Court.
It is possible to obtain a divorce and complete a property division whilst never stepping foot in the Family Court if a matter can be resolved by consent between the parties.
It may be that you, or we, consider it is highly likely that a matter will result in a Family Court application however generally speaking there are processes and steps that must be taken in both property and children’s matters prior to issuing any proceedings. Often going through these processes will allow a matter to reach a conclusion without litigation or will, at the very least, significantly narrow the issues between the parties.
Of the matters that do end up in the Family Court a very small number will reach trial.