Why a family lawyer is necessary?
Once the dust settles from the immediate emotional aspects of a separation, for many people thoughts will turn towards how and what is the best course of action to facilitate a swift, clean and lest costly relationship breakup.
From a myriad of concerns, things such as financial support and obligations, entitlement to a property settlement, child custody and child support often feature prominently in terms of the information people require.
What can also be complicating for people is misinformation. Misinformation can come from well-intentioned family and friends reciting “back yard barbeque advice” and anecdotes about a guy they know who had a divorce, through to the large quantity of information available on the internet, often lacking context, explanation and/or completeness.
The reality is the family law in Australia is incredibly complex and nuanced. Nuanced in that remedies are often discretionary and subject to legislative requirements that have only been defined by a significant body of case law. Judges for the most part have their own style of conducting their Court and hearings.
All of this means that it is incredibly important for people experiencing a separation to obtain advice from a lawyer that is both experienced and knowledgeable in the family law system.
Bad advice and bad decisions early on can go a long way towards making separation more painful, drawn out and expensive.
First family law appointment
The first appointment or initial attendance is very important for most clients. Typically, clients will have many questions, they will be anxious about their financial future or parenting after separation; and they may be struggling with emotional aspects of the separation. If they haven’t dealt with lawyers before this may also be a source of stress.
While information and guidance is important, it is also important for the client to get a feel for their lawyer as a person, and determine whether they have confidence in the lawyer and can develop a rapport.
An essential skill for a good family lawyer is the ability to listen to a client. Listening is more than just recording the client’s story. It is about picking up on the subtext and non-verbal cues that allow the lawyer to understand their client and their client’s case. Asking the right questions of a client is also important for the lawyer in gathering information. If the lawyer doesn’t understand your case, they cannot properly advise you or advocate for it in Court.
Once a client has explained their situation and needs, the lawyer can provide information and guidance. As well as information regarding the relevant law and procedure from a theoretical and practical perspective, information also covers:
- Other services that may be required such reconciliation counselling, accounting and financial advice, mortgage brokers, family violence services, parenting courses, mediators etc;
- Strategy both long and short term to best manage the pathway to resolving the matter as swiftly and cost effectively as possible. This can include mediation where relevant or going to court, what to expect at court or representation in court;
- Guidance with respect to dealing with an ex-partner such as managing behaviour and how to respond to the difficult ex-partner;
- The importance and nature of evidence as it is used in negotiations or within the formal court environment;
- Your responsibilities under the law including as a separated parent and to make full and frank disclosure of financial matters;
- How to manage your legal costs and avoid excessive legal fees.
I consider the initial attendance sufficiently important that Hooper Mill Family Lawyers does two things that many other family lawyers don’t do.
Firstly, we don’t put a limit on the time we spend with a person at the initial attendance. We consider that the above is sufficiently important to warrant spending as much time as is necessary to ensure the lawyer has a complete understanding of the client’s needs; and the client has their questions answered; and understands the lawyer’s advice and recommendations.
Secondly, we don’t time cost for an initial attendance. We charge fixed fee ensuring people do not feel rushed by time costing.
One of the most rewarding moments for me as a family lawyer is the feedback I get at the conclusion of an initial attendance. The most common response is “I feel so much better now”. It’s not just the words, but the change in demeanour and expression from when a person walks into the office, to when they are walking out with clear short- and long-term guidance.
What do I need to do or bring if I want to see a family lawyer?
A phone call or email and a booking is the first step.
If you can bring information regarding relevant dates such as birthdays, de facto cohabitation or marriage dates, separation dates etc this is helpful. In property matters it is also helpful if you can provide a list of what you and your partner or ex-partner own and owe (including superannuation or other interests).
At the end of the day though if you don’t have this information, we can still help you, and for us family law problems have solutions.
If you would like to meet with us contact Hooper Mill Family Lawyers at Victoria Point on (07) 3207 7663; or Hooper Mill Family Lawyers Coolangatta on (07) 5599 3026.