So you have separated or are contemplating separation. You have decided to take the plunge and make contact with a family lawyer for family law advice. It is important that you make preparations for the initial consultation. Below are some practical tips that will help you make the most out of your first meeting with a family lawyer.
1. Gather all documents and information
It is important that you don’t get bogged down in collating documentation prior to meeting with your family lawyer, as at that stage, you are likely unaware of what may be relevant and this process is likely to stress you out even before you meet with your family lawyer. What is likely to assist is if you prepare a timeline of the major events in your relationship and if a property settlement matter, a list of your assets and liabilities. Further, you should write down a list of questions that you wish to be answered by your family lawyer;
2. Reflect on your goals
Before meeting with your family lawyer for family law advice, consider what you are hoping to achieve. Is there a need to act protectively for the children and or yourself? Do you want to maintain any existing relationships or agreements? Are there certain financial needs or rights that need to be addressed? Knowing and communicating your specific goals and expectations to your family lawyer will help them advise you on the best course of action and ensure that the family law advice is tailored to your needs;
3. Speak openly and honestly with your lawyer
In order for your family lawyer to assist, it is essential that you feel comfortable in discussing with them all the details relevant to your case. No detail is too small, your lawyer will be able to draw connections between seemingly unrelated facts that could help progress your matter. You will likely find that failing to inform your lawyer of all the details early on in your matter, will cause an increase in your costs, as what you may have considered a minor detail, may have the impact of changing the direction of a matter;
4. Ask questions
It is important that you understand all the risks associated with resolving your legal issue, such risks not only being financial, but also to your mental health and the impact upon the people around you. At the initial consultation, it is important that your family lawyer outlines your case plan, so you are aware of what the process involves, how long the process will take, what the best case may be, what the worst case may be, the associated costs and what is your next step to take.
By taking the time to consider the matters in this blog, you will be able to maximize the outcome of your first meeting with your family lawyer. Being aware of the process that you are about to face may be daunting, however, with the right family lawyer by your side providing clear practical family law advice, together with a plan as to how such matters are to be dealt with, you will be on the right track to resolving your matter and advancing with your life. It is important to note that there is no obligation to retain your family lawyer following your initial consultation. If you do not believe that the lawyer is the right fit for you and your matter, continue your search, as it is important that you trust your family lawyer and that they share your desire to resolving matters, rather than being focussed on the financial income for themselves.