By Gianna Huesch
Your first meeting with your family lawyer can be a little nerve-wracking. You will probably be feeling somewhat emotional, whether you are grieving the end of a relationship, or feeling guilty for wanting to end one. You may also be feeling nervous because it’s all so personal: it can be distressing to have to reveal intimate information to a perfect stranger, no matter their professional capacity. But rest assured there is no need to be nervous. Everything we discuss is confidential and we are not here to judge you. What we are here to do is concentrate on the issues at hand and guide you through the whole process.
The first time you call us to discuss making an appointment, we ask for some details of the other person involved in your matter. We do this in order to undertake a conflict of interest check to ensure we are not acting for related parties. Then, when you come in to meet us for the first time, we offer you a free half hour first conference. During this meeting you tell us a little about your circumstances and we discuss how we would approach your matter, advise you on the services we provide, and discuss the process with you. The purpose here is to assess your needs and requirements based on the information to hand.
We also provide you with an indication of what our costs will be. After this conference, you receive a full costs disclosure and information on how to retain our firm if you decide to engage us. Please note that until you are registered as a client, we cannot provide specific legal advice about your matter.
If you decide to engage us, before you next come in, there are certain things you can do to make the meeting as productive as possible. One of the things we suggest you do is to write down some notes regarding your situation and bring them in so we can get a copy. Specific information will help us establish what is going on in your particular situation, and how best to apply the general principles of family law to your unique circumstances. Therefore, writing down the facts is really useful, such as details of when and where you were married, what an agreed upon date of separation is, details of any children, details of employment of both parties, current living arrangements, and so on. If you provide us with this info for our file it can be used for easy reference, such as for when preparing future documentation.
Similarly, walking into our offices with a written list of your current questions or concerns is also a great idea so we can begin to work our way through the issues. It’s also helpful to bring along any existing court and other legal documents such as Orders, letters from other side’s solicitors, or any other documents served on you. The duty of full and frank disclosure relating to property and/or parenting finances means that documents you hold relating to finances, such as tax returns and a list of assets and liabilities, are also really useful to bring along.
Preparation will help you feel in control and able to make the most of the meeting. And it will assist us to use the law and the legal system to your best advantage, to ensure you walk away from your marriage with your fair share and the most equitable outcome.
Sometimes, you might not be ready to go through with anything at this stage, and may just be gathering information. And that too is OK: divorce is a huge decision and you need good information and advice before taking the next step.
Would you like to take advantage of our free first conference offer? Please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced lawyers here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400 to make an appointment.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance.