Make the Most of Your Time with Your Lawyer

If you’re going to see a lawyer, it pays to be prepared. Part of this preparation should be about knowing how the lawyer practices family law, their approach to negotiation and how they interact with their clients. You may end up working very closely with them and they will be knee deep in your life so it’s imperative that you trust them. Getting a referral from a trusted friend or professional advisor is ideal.

Some practitioners take a collaborative approach and will spend the first interview listening to you, trying to work out the best way to communicate with you and what your biggest personal challenges are asking open questions to understand what your priorities are. With these lawyers you can opt in to a non-adversarial process with the goal of reaching an agreeable financial settlement and child focused outcomes. It can work very well for some separating couples, particularly those with children, as it preserves the relationship going forward. It does not work for all couples though, join one of our webinars to learn more.

Traditional lawyers (who are in the majority) will take a more direct approach, asking lots of questions that accord with the principles under the Family Law Act. They will want to know:

  • When did you start living with your ex-partner, when did you marry, when did you separate? If you can’t remember, find out.

  • The ages and birth dates of any children you or your ex-partner have.

  • What assets did you have when you started the relationship?

  • What is the value of you and your ex-partner’s car?

  • What property do you or your ex-partner own?

  • What other assets do you have (eg. money in bank accounts, shares, managed funds, antiques, tools in the shed)?

  • How much you earn (hint: get copies of your last 3 tax returns)?

  • Are you a beneficiary of any trust funds?

  • How much superannuation do you have (hint: get a recent statement from all your funds)?

  • How much debt do you have (credit card, mortgages, HECS, loans to parents etc.)?

  • Do you or your partner have any disabilities or require ongoing medical treatment?

  • Have you ever or are you expecting to inherit money?

Having the answers to all these questions written down and even copies of the documents will be very helpful but don’t stress if you don’t have access to this information or don’t know how to obtain it. Your lawyer can assist or you can join our webinar and ask a specific question.

Bonnie Esposito