When should you call a family lawyer?
I think it’s best that people come as soon as possible. If they know their marriage is in trouble, or if they think they might be heading to separation. It is always better to get advice and know about your options. Sometimes people come in to see me, they find out what their options are and that gives them a little bit of comfort and then maybe they don’t separate. They know what their options are, they know they have some escape route, if you like. This gives them some bargaining power.
If they get a letter from a lawyer. If they haven’t had legal advice before they separate, I recommend they see a lawyer as soon as possible, even if you don’t want to take any action immediately, it’s important to know how to protect yourself. It’s important to know what you can take from the house if you are leaving, how to protect your bank accounts and what your rights are in relation to the children. Also, before mediation, you know what your best and worst position is and you can bargain in an informed way.
What sort of questions will a family lawyer ask?
I try and get some basic facts, I’d like to know when people started living together, the names and ages of their children, briefly who left the home, the circumstances of their separation. Then I want to know what their concerns are, so that I can address their immediate concerns. It might be arrangements for the children, so we will talk about what’s happening, what they think is best, a little bit about what the legal situation is. If we are talking about financial matters, the more people can tell me about what they think the house or the car might be worth, the superannuation statements. They shouldn’t worry about too much homework, I can guide them through what they need to have, and then we can compile a list of the ‘homework’ that they need to do when they come back once they’ve had some initial advice. They shouldn’t be nervous that they don’t have all the information, they don’t need to worry about that.
Does it become a good, working relationship with a lawyer?
Yes, I’m there to help, to listen to their concerns, I’m there to help them find the information that they need so I can help them. I will certainly coach them through the whole process.
To get in touch with the DBH family law team, contact us via our contact page or free call 1900 324 324.