Things to do before you see your lawyer to discuss financial matters
By: Therese Borger
Legal advice and/or representation following the breakdown of a relation is so important, however it can also be costly. Depending on the complexity of the case and the legal issues involved, there are numerous ways a client can work with their lawyer to keep costs down. This article provides some tips of things to do before you have your first appointment with your lawyer to discuss financial matters. The purpose of the article is to allow you to optimize your time with your lawyer to obtain practical and big picture advice from the outset. As your matter progresses there may be other tasks that you can complete to save additional costs.
Know your current needs
Come to your appointment with a clear summary of your current parenting and financial needs. Following the breakdown of a relationship, you are likely suffering from additional pressures both as to time and finances that were not experienced by you during your relationship. You may be working increased hours at work, utilizing additional family support, and/or attending to recent medical issues. Be clear in your mind as to what is a temporary need and what is a ongoing need so that you can seek advice that is both applicable to your current and long term goals.
Know your financial position
Draft a summary document for yourself, and/or to provide to your lawyer that sets out your and your partners: income, expenditure, assets (real property, shares, term deposits, business interests, investments etc), liabilities (credit cards, tax debts, mortgages etc), and the balances of each of your superannuation funds.
Review the history of your relationship
Come to your appointment prepared to provide instructions to your lawyer as to: the date your relationship commenced, what assets each of you had at that time, what assets you and your partner accumulated during the relationship, how any assets accumulated during the marriage were financed, the date of your separation, and what informal discussions you and your partner have had concerning financial matters.
Consider what you want
Avoid coming to your initial conference with a view to reacting to what your lawyer may advise is your ‘entitlement’ under the law. Consider what exactly you may want so that your lawyer can consider this in their advice to you. For example, consider whether you want to retain the family home or whether you want to sell it in the coming auction season.
Being in a position to provide your lawyer with the above instructions will not only save you considerable costs, but will allow you more time in your conference to discuss the finer details of your matter that are unique to you. In this way, you will help us provide you with the tailored advice designed for your needs.