During the breakdown of a relationship, people often find it difficult to consider their future and the direction they want to go. Often in our experience, getting advice at an early stage (even before you decide to separate) can give you the clarity and empowerment to move forward confidently and with purpose.
A common misconception among the public is that family lawyers will advocate for Court. That couldn’t be further from the truth and quite often Family Lawyers will negotiate with the other party (or their lawyer) and do everything they can to keep matters out of Court. Indeed, Court settlements or agreements are in the main much better for you, because you retain control about the decisions you make. When you apply to a Court to make a decision, you lose that control and in our experience, the Court will often make decisions with the focus on the global outcome, rather than the specific effect those decisions can have on people.
So we can give you accurate, concise and easy to understand advice in your initial consultation, it would be of benefit for people to do some research into their own financial situation. If you can prepare some notes to bring with you, even better! Some of the things that we (as lawyers) need to know to give accurate advice are:
- An understanding of both parties’ assets and liabilities (e.g. real property, superannuation, investments/shares, motor vehicles and the like, credit cards, mortgages and personal loans for example). An estimate of worth is fine but if you have the documents to support it, that’s good too;
- Information about your (and your spouses) income;
- Details of your initial financial contributions to the relationship, as well as those of your spouse;
- Details of any financial or non-financial contributions made during the relationship, including inheritances or other windfalls, financial gifts received and so on – the list is endless, but don’t get bogged down in the minutiae of who-earnt-what because property settlements are not specifically an accounting exercise;
- A list of questions that you would like your lawyer to answer.
The most common ‘roadblock’ to a lawyer providing accurate and tailored advice occurs when a client is unable to provide answers to these important questions, so preparing yourself ahead of time is important to assist your lawyer in providing you with some certainty and clarity in what is usually a very uncertain time for people. In our experience, there is a great deal of information delivered in our initial consultations so it is helpful if you bring a pen and paper to make some notes, or even bring a trusted family member or friend for support.
Seeking advice early is so critical in setting yourself up to move forward in the best possible manner to achieve the best possible outcomes, and if you need advice then please do not hesitate to contact our office today and make an appointment with our family lawyers.