Separation and Divorce can be a very daunting and stressful experience. You want a family lawyer who will help you understand the process, communicate with you about your options and assist you to achieve the best outcome possible, having regard to your situation and needs.
Some important factors to keep in mind when looking for a family lawyer to assist you throughout the process include the following:
Choose a Family Law expert, or a Lawyer who works in Family Law on a day-to-day basis
- Family Law is a complex area of law and is constantly changing. You want a lawyer who understands the process and is up to date with the leading case law on issues pertaining to your matter.
- General practice lawyers are generally not appropriate for a Family Law matter. They may not have a deep understanding of the intricacies of the law and the process. They may only practice in Family Law from time to time, and that is not someone who you should be entrusting with your parenting, property, maintenance, and child support issues, just to name a few.
- A law firm that has a team of family lawyers who work collaboratively is a good sign that they know the law and apply their legal skills to Family Law on a day-to-day basis. You can also rest assured that if your family lawyer is not available to answer your queries on any given day, there will be another lawyer in the office who knows your matter and can assist you.
Chat with your Lawyer and meet them face to face
- It is important to meet with your lawyer to ensure that you feel comfortable and that they are compatible to you. You should understand your lawyer’s style of practice and whether it suits your needs. For example, some family lawyers are more adversarial than others. That may not be in your best interests, particularly if you and your former partner have reached agreement and want to formalise it.
- Keep in mind that you will be sharing very personal details about your relationship, your parenting, your finances, your health and your life in general, with your family lawyer. It is important that you trust them. Meeting your lawyer face to face will give you an opportunity to see how they treat you, what their attitude to your concerns and queries is like, and how they explain legal jargon and procedures to you. These are all critical factors in ensuring that you feel informed and empowered throughout your separation.
Choose a Lawyer who is accessible and available
- You will need to speak with your family lawyer frequently, sometimes daily, depending on what stage of the process your matter is at. This means that you need a family lawyer who is available to take your calls and answer emails and correspondence in a timely manner.
- Sometimes, office location is important too. It may be best for you to engage a family lawyer who is located in your local or surrounding suburbs, depending on how you travel and your accessibility to public transport.
Check out the law firm’s website
- A law firm’s website will tell you a lot about their practice, their expertise, and their lawyers. It will also give you a good indication of whether they practice regularly in Family Law and are well informed in the area.
- If the law firm’s website has information about Family Law that is updated regularly, including articles, blogs and vlogs, then that is a good sign that you will be working with a lawyer, or a team of lawyers, who take the time to learn, collate and disseminate helpful Family Law information on a regular basis.
Ask your trusted family and friends
- Separation and Divorce is quite common. It is likely that someone you trust has had dealings with a family lawyer.
- Your close family and friends generally know you best and may be able to recommend a family lawyer for you. Referrals and recommendations generally give you some reassurance about the Lawyer’s expertise and how they operate.
Look out for warning signs and red flags
- You may not know the law, but you know if you feel comfortable with a lawyer. You want a family lawyer who is genuinely interested in assisting you. If your lawyer seems distracted in their meeting(s) with you (for example, they are checking their mobile phone or emails, or taking other calls regularly), or if they seem disorganised, then you may not be getting their full attention and consideration.
- A family lawyer must give you proper legal advice. They are not there to tell you what you want to hear or to regurgitate what you say in letters and legal documents. If your Lawyer is simply agreeing with everything you say and makes grand promises from the outset that they cannot deliver thereafter, then that is a warning sign that they simply want your business. They may not be acting in your best interests.
- Your family lawyer must act ethically and should follow Best Practice Guidelines in Family Law as recommended by the Law Council of Australia. This means that they cannot encourage you to blackmail your former partner or engage in unethical negotiations and conduct. If your lawyer is negotiating and approaching your matter in an unethical manner, it will do you more harm than good and may have negative long-term implications.
Tonkin Legal Group is an established law firm that prides itself on its team of Lawyers who specialise in Family Law and are committed to serving clients in a personable, compassionate, and ethical manner. If you would like to make an appointment with one of our friendly Family Lawyers, please do not hesitate to contact us on (03) 9435 9044.