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How to prepare when meeting with your family lawyer for the first time

The breakdown of your relationship can be difficult to deal with.  Seeing a lawyer for the first time can be equally as daunting.  By taking the time to think about your situation and focusing on what you hope to achieve, you ensure that complete and fully informed advice is provided to you from the beginning.

The following tips will help you to prepare for the first meeting with you family lawyer, and may assist you to anticipate the types of conversations you will have with your lawyer at the initial stages.

How to maximise your time with your lawyer

In order for your lawyer to ensure that you are given the best possible advice they require an array of information.  We understand that it may not be possible for you to access all or any of this information, and while it is not crucial, it will help in us making an initial assessment of your family law matter.

1.   Provide a summary of your family history

Your lawyer will want to know the date you began living with your spouse or partner, the date of your marriage, the date you separated, and details concerning your children (names, dates of birth and the current living arrangement).

2.   Provide details of income and employment

It will be helpful if you are able to outline the history of your employment for both you and your spouse or partner, including any periods at which time either of you were unemployed.  Bring with you information that demonstrates the employment of you and your spouse or partner, including tax returns, notices of assessment, and pay slips.

3.   Create a list of all assets and liabilities

In order for your family lawyer to advise you adequately about they will need to know all assets and liabilities held by each of you individually and jointly.  These assets may include:

  • Real estate;
  • Personal assets such as vehicles, furniture, jewellery and contents;
  • Bank accounts, stock or investment accounts, business accounts;
  • Financial statements for the last three years for any private companies in which either your or your spouse have an interest;
  • Details of any trusts in which either of you have an interest;
  • Details of your superannuation or life insurance policies;
  • A list of debts for each of you individually and jointly. This may include mortgages, credit cards, bank loans and personal guarantees.

Any information that you can collate as to assets and debts for both of you at the date of marriage or cohabitation, as well as any inheritance or windfalls received during or after the marriage and details of any substantial gifts from third parties (someone other than your spouse), will be of assistance.

4.   Create a list of all expenses

Though it can be tiresome, providing a list of personal expenses as well as expenses for your children such as school fees, extra-curricular activities, and uninsured medical and dental expenses will be useful.

Remember that everything you tell your lawyer is confidential.

Your family lawyer wants to help you through this difficult process, and it is important that they are provided with all the information that is needed so that they can properly assess your family law matter within the legal framework.  Sharing your story in detail will ensure your family lawyer advises you as to the most appropriate process option for you, and whether what you hope to achieve is the likely outcome.

Things to think about before the first meeting with your lawyer

At Resolve Divorce Lawyers we are outcome focused.  Therefore, at our first meeting with you we will want to better understand not only your dispute, but your budget, your desired timeframe, what is most important to you, and what you hope to achieve.  Therefore, prior to your first meeting with your lawyer, ask yourself:

  1. What do I want and why is this important to me?
  2. What is most important for our children?
  3. What are my short-term and long-term goals?
  4. What am I most worried about?

It is imperative that we understand your answers to these four questions at the outset, as it will help us to tailor the way in which your matter is resolved, and have your desired outcome at the forefront of all that we do while we guide you through your separation journey.


This blog post was developed by Chanel Martin, Associate Solicitor at Resolve Divorce Lawyers.  Contact Chanel via chanel@resolvedivorce.com.au or phone 08 7228 6110 for a free 15 minute phone interview to learn how Resolve Divorce Lawyers might assist you with your family law matter.


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