Preparing for your first meeting with a family lawyer

We understand that your first meeting with a family lawyer can seem very daunting, especially during a challenging and emotional time. However, taking that first step to schedule this meeting will ensure you are able to obtain clear and tailored advice as to your rights, obligations and the various pathways available to you in order to reach a fair outcome.

To help you maximise your time during your initial conference, we have created the following simple guide as to things you might consider in preparation.

Consider your immediate financial needs

It can be very difficult suddenly shifting from a combined income to a single income. Do you have a shortfall between your expenses and your current income? There may be solutions available to you in this scenario. To help assess your current financial position and map out your budget, this spreadsheet may be useful. click here

Consider arrangements for the children

Separation can be equally emotionally challenging for the children, so it’s crucial you give thought to which parenting arrangements will ensure a sustainable and familiar routine can be maintained for the children. This will give the children a degree of stability amidst the uncertainty.

  • Which parenting arrangements are in the children’s best interests and are workable, taking into account you and/or your partner/spouse’s work commitments and any required travel to and from school?
  • How has the balance of caring for the children been divided between you and your partner/spouse historically?
  • Can the children’s current routine, including extracurricular activities, be maintained?
  • Do you have family nearby who can help with school/daycare drop off/pick up, if necessary?
  • Consider various schedules which can be implemented e.g fortnightly cycles, week-on week-off, equal shared care.
Consider your borrowing capacity

We would recommend giving thought to which outcome you are wanting to achieve in terms of a property settlement. This may include retaining the home in your sole name or buying a new property. Making enquiries with your bank or mortgage broker as to your borrowing capacity will give you the ability to consider whether you are able to retain any real property as part of your settlement. Whilst you don’t need to know this from the outset, being equipped with realistic advice in this regard will help set the framework for the trajectory of your matter as it progresses.

Consider investing in your mental health

We can’t reiterate enough the importance of investing in your mental health during this challenging period. Take the steps you need to ensure you’re able to protect yourself and your children emotionally whilst navigating the process ahead.

  • Obtain a mental health plan from your GP
  • Speak to a counsellor
  • Gain support from your friends and family
Consider your financial position – assets, liabilities and superannuation

As part of our initial intake process, we will provide you with a simple online form to complete. The information you enter here will provide us with insight into your current situation and allow us to start quantifying your asset pool, which means we are able to demonstrate the effects of varying settlement scenarios for you to consider.

  • Obtain the current balances of your bank accounts, shareholdings and superannuation interests
  • Obtain the current balances of any liabilities – loans, credit cards and other debts
  • Consider the current value of any properties in which you hold an interest (simply googling your address can give you useful insight as to estimated property values in your area)
  • Consider the current value of any motor vehicles or other items of value in your possession
  • Consider any business or trust interests you may have and speak to your accountant to get a better understanding of your business/trust structure(s)

Speak to our client relationship manager Brooke Grover to organise your initial meeting with a member of our highly experienced team of family lawyers.