It’s no secret that Family Law matters can be highly stressful and costly. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your initial consultation with a family lawyer.

  1. Be prepared

You may not want to think about family law matters at first, but if you are prepared early it can save you both time and money in the long run. A good place to start would be to try and prepare a list of your assets and liabilities that you and your former partner own. Think about the dates that your relationship commenced and ended. You may also want to start preparing a list of questions for a family lawyer so that you can use your time most effectively.

Depending on the type of matters you require assistance with, you may be able to save some time and money by doing some ground work yourself. Think carefully about your circumstances. For example, if you wish to discuss children’s matters, think about the children’s current needs and routine; who is caring for the children during the day, do they attend school, or extra-curricular activities that you wish for them to continue, how do the children spend their holidays and special occasions?

A Family Lawyer may be able to determine your likely entitlements to property division if they can obtain a better understanding of all of yours and your former partner’s assets and liabilities.

You should consider the following, prior to your meeting with a family lawyer:

  • The value of your residential property (try to obtain an informal appraisal from a real-estate agent);
  • Any debts including credit cards, personal loans and mortgages (check your statements);
  • Value of your motor vehicle/s (you may wish to obtain an approximate value from;
  • Your respective superannuation balances;
  • Annual income earnt by you and your former partner;
  • Your borrowing capacity and any possible taxation consequences if you wish to sell property;
  • Did you or your former partner receive any inheritances, redundancy payments or other payouts during the relationship and if so, when?;
  • Any other assets or liabilities held by yourself or your former partner.

2. Know what you want

This is one of the most important steps, in order to get your desired outcome as quickly and efficiently as possible. Set out a plan of what is most important to you, and what you hope to achieve from meeting with a family lawyer. If you are amicable with your former partner do you wish to formalise an agreement to resolve property and/or parenting matters without court proceedings? Alternatively, do you need assistance with court proceedings that are already on foot?
Doing some research and deciding on these issues beforehand will save a lot of time in the appointment so that when you arrive, you and a family lawyer are able to get straight to the issues that matter most to you.

3. Book in for an appointment

Now you have a plan of what you want to achieve, you can go into your appointment with a clear head and work towards a positive outcome!

The above is general advice only and will not suit everyone or every situation. A family separation can be overwhelming, stressful and confusing and we encourage everyone to seek assistance. Your solicitor can also refer you to financial, emotional, and psychological support services. The above advice does not constitute legal advice.