The decision to utilise family law services is never an easy one – it usually comes at a critical juncture in one’s life and is wrought by emotional intensity and signifies significant change. However, choosing the right family lawyer can help make the difficult process a little bit easier to deal with. Meanwhile, choosing the wrong lawyer or not seeking legal advice at all, could lead to further headache and heartache in the future.
What should I know about choosing a family lawyer?
In matters of Family Law, you will find that you need to seek out a lawyer that specialises in the field even if you use a lawyer for your business or other day-to-day matters. This will especially be the case if your lawyer has had any representative dealings with your partner as this poses a conflict of interest. Your partner should have his or her own legal counsel.
A good family lawyer should be generally familiar with a number of areas of law:
- Property and taxation law will be especially important in most matters involving the splitting of assets and entitlements.
- The Family Law Act forms the foundation for most considerations that include custody arrangements and shared parenting
- In some instances, bankruptcy or immigration law may play a role in the matter.
A good family lawyer will have a strong referral network that they can consult with if they are unsure about certain details of a particular niche.
It’s also very important to find a lawyer that you feel comfortable working with and have a good rapport with as many of the details that you will be asked to provide can be quite personal.
What should I prepare to meet with a Family Lawyer?
Making an appointment to see a Family Lawyer is a very difficult first step, but an important one. It’s always best to seek legal counsel sooner rather than later if you can, as many cases will take some time to resolve.
Once you’ve made an appointment to see a lawyer, you should prepare a few things for your first meeting.
- List of questions – make a list of questions that you have about the process and go through them in detail. It’ll be important to understand what will happen at each step, for your own benefit and peace of mind but also so you’ll be able to communicate any important changes, especially to children.
- Prepare your financials – get together as much of your financial information as possible. You should know which assets you own jointly as well as any combined debts, including mortgages and credit cards. Your lawyer will also want to understand as much as possible about the division of expenses at home.
- Bring any paperwork that has been filed – if you’ve been served with any documents bring them along for your lawyer to review. He or she will be able to provide more detail on what they mean and give guidance on what the next steps should be.
- Get an understanding for budget – in divorce cases, Family Lawyers will generally charge on an hourly basis and while it will be impossible to know exactly how much it will cost, your lawyer will be able to give you an estimate on the amount of time that might be necessary at each stage of the process.
Remember that a good Family Law firm will also be able to provide a few different options depending on your individual matter. In many instances, alternative dispute resolution or mediation will be a much more effective route than a costly court hearing.
What questions do you have about choosing a Family Lawyer?