Meeting with a family lawyer for the first time can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be. It can save you time and money if you are well prepared with the relevant information at the time of your initial meeting.
Your initial meeting with your lawyer will usually take between 1 – 2 hours. You can meet with a lawyer prior to or after separation to receive advice on your rights, entitlements and to put an action plan in place. Remember, all conversations you have with your lawyer are confidential.
What to bring to your meeting
To enable your family lawyer to properly advise you, be armed with relevant details, including:
Key dates in your relationship i.e. when you started living together, date of marriage, date of separation, date of divorce and children’s birth dates.
Collect financial documents, including bank statements (such as transaction, credit card and mortgage accounts), tax returns and notices of assessment, pay slips and your latest superannuation member statement. If there are any entities, such as companies, partnerships, trusts and self-managed super funds, you should obtain relevant records including any trust deeds, financial statements, and business activity statements.
In family law matters, all parties have an obligation to exchange full and frank disclosure of their financial circumstances. These documents are required to enable your lawyer to properly advise you and will need to be exchanged with the other party. The sooner you can collate these documents, the better.
Compile a list of assets, liabilities and superannuation entitlements that are owned by you and your partner/former partner either jointly or separately, including estimated current values. For any real properties, it can assist if you provide 2 – 3 market appraisals from real estate agents. For any motor vehicles, you can often find online appraisals through websites such as redbook.com.au.
When you book a meeting with us, we send you a link to complete a short induction questionnaire. This gives you the opportunity to compile the information in your own time and space and will enable our family lawyers to consider the key information on your matter ahead of your first meeting. You do not have to fill out the questionnaire ahead of the meeting if you would prefer not to. You can always provide the information in person at your meeting.
Details of you and your partner/ former partner’s employment history and income received throughout the relationship.
Details of how your finances were run, who paid the bills, who paid for children’s expenses etc.
Details of any renovations to property, including work personally undertaken or source of payment for any labour costs and/or materials.
Details of any lump sums of money received ie. inheritances, compensation payments, cash gifts from family, etc and how those funds were spent.
Before your meeting, think about what you want to achieve in the short and long term and why. Consider any assets you wish to retain and assets that will be sold as part of your property settlement. It may help for you to write down a list of questions to ask your lawyer.
You are welcome to bring a trusted friend or family member if you would feel more comfortable with a support person. If you have children, arrange for someone to care for them at the time of your meeting.
Typically, after your lawyer has received all the information relevant to your case, your lawyer will talk you through a few possible outcomes, including the likely percentage range of your entitlements. There is no obligation to proceed past your initial consultation. Your lawyer will talk you through the process and costs involved if you decide to engage them to assist you moving forward.
At Turnbull Hill Lawyers, we have a team of family lawyers who can provide you with legal advice and an action plan tailored to your individual circumstances. You can contact our office to arrange an obligation free phone call with one our lawyers for a confidential discussion prior to booking a consultation.