Before You Separate – What To Ask Your Family Lawyer

The decision to see a family lawyer isn’t an easy one. It usually comes with plenty of heavy emotions, and when children are involved, it can be a delicate process for everyone involved.

Separation can be a long process, and there will be areas of legality you’re likely to run into where you may be prepared for the outcome. Even if you believe your separation will be amicable in the beginning, things can change along the way, and having a family lawyer can help you navigate the steps along the way to protect your interests.

What’s involved in separation?

In Australia, you need to prove you have been separated 12 months before you can file for divorce. This can apply to both married couples and de facto relationships and takes into consideration if you’ve been living together under the one roof separated or have been living apart. Family law is extremely complex, and it’s essential to see a specialist in the area or an accredited specialist to get the right advice.  Your first appointment will involve your family lawyer discussing your background, how long you’ve been with your partner, how many children you have and their current living arrangements.

Questions a family lawyer will go over will be:

  • If in your situation you need to retain a lawyer for the whole process or just small parts and what your options are
  • What your next steps in the process will be
  • What you need to do to protect your legal position
  • How much the fees will be and how they will be billed
  • Parenting arrangements and property settlement considerations
  • Options of mediation with or without legal representation as a consideration as opposed to going to court

Property settlement

This is the area where most people either have a great deal of understanding due to their backgrounds and career or very little. It can be a daunting process to all of a sudden have to make huge decisions which will impact your current situation and your future retirement income.

A family lawyer will give you advice about managing risk and options on closing joint bank accounts and credit cards and avoiding any debt going forward in joint names.

A family lawyer should discuss the following:

  • Advice on establishing a pool of money in your name alone
  • Getting tax advisors or financial advisors to help with tax consequences, superannuation, and self-managed super fund options
  • Obtaining up-to-date financial records, any property titles, superannuation statements, mortgage and credit debt statements and other investment information
  • A timeline for your property settlement and if there are any risks involved selling or retaining a family home
  • Deadlines to do with your timing of separation or divorce

Children and family matters

If you have children, then the biggest priority is for the children to have a meaningful relationship with both parents after separation, while maintaining their safety and wellbeing. The law will take into consideration the children’s best interests and the most amicable way they can have a good relationship with both parents. A specialist lawyer will advise you about their living arrangements and the resources available for you and your ex-spouse to reach an agreement.

This is the time to be as honest with your home situation as possible with your lawyer so they can better assess if there are any risk factors associated with the living arrangements. As unpleasant as this can be, it’s better to talk to your lawyer about possible implications from past events which could present themselves in the future.

A family lawyer will discuss:

  • If there has ever been any domestic violence in the home
  • If there are any DVO’s in place or police reports made
  • If there have been any restrictions made financially to restrict access
  • If the children have had any problems with the authorities either in school or with the police, or in regard to their safety and wellbeing
  • Any prior convictions or charges relating to you or your spouse

The process of separation and divorce can be a tough one in some cases, and it’s essential you feel comfortable with your chosen family law solicitor so that you have clarity on your legal position.

The friendly team at Wilson Haynes law pride themselves on understanding how difficult and emotional this process is and will do everything to ensure a just resolution is made to resolve your separation. Contact them today for your cost-free 40-minute consultation to get you started.