If you’ve made the decision to get help from a family lawyer, it can be enormously helpful to know what first to expect. What will the first session involve? What do you need to prepare? What is the cost?

Even in that initial consultation, becoming further informed about the process of separation from a family lawyer can give you peace of mind. You’ll feel assured that your legal obligations are being taken care of, and that you’ve got someone you can rely on to navigate you through what can be a lengthy, complicated, and stressful separation process.

At Croker Edwards, we charge a flat rate of $275 (inclusive of GST) for a first consultation. We are happy to conduct the conference either in person or by Zoom.

There is no requirement for you to notify your partner that you have met with a family lawyer. Your appointment is confidential.

There is also no obligation after your first appointment to follow through with hiring your lawyer.

Before your appointment

We need to know the specifics about you and your family. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and with Family Law, there is no one-size-fits-all in determining the end result.

For this reason, we invite you to do some information gathering before you first come in to meet with us. We call it homework. The more we know about you, the better our advice will be, and the more you get out of the appointment.

Below is the kind of information we’ll ask you to come prepared with

  1. Two forms of identification – it is essential that we can ID you in order to act on your behalf.
  2. A basic chronology – dates of birth, when you and your partner met, when you began living together, when you were married, when you moved house, when either or both of you bought/sold property, when you each started/stopped jobs/businesses, when you each studied, when either of you received any inheritances or large gifts.
  3. A list of any assets either of you owned when you began living together (with approximate values). Include superannuation.
  4. Details of any significant assets or cash gifts from third parties that came to either of you during your relationship (i.e., anything that came into the marriage from a source other than your combined endeavours) – such as inheritances, gifts from family members – with dates.
  5. A list of your combined current asset position stating:
    1. Description of the assets and liabilities (such as – property address; bank name and account number/s; share particulars – company name,numberand class of shares; particulars of art items; year of manufacture for the car; superannuation fund details)
    2. Estimated or known value of the assets/liabilities
    3. Current ownership of the assets and liabilities (is the item currently owned in your name, your partner’s name, or jointly?)
  6. Details of your job and income and details of your partner’s job and income.
  7. Details of income received from other sources, such as rental income.

Working out a lot of these details on the spot is not easy, so that’s why we ask that you try to come prepared. However, while this material gives us valuable insight into your family circumstances, we know that you won’t always have access, or can’t get access, to some of this information before your consultation. Don’t worry and come with what you can. We’ll let you know if we need additional information during the meeting.

What about information regarding children?

We usually won’t ask you to come prepared with documents regarding children. If you’re seeking advice about navigating parenting arrangements with your former partner, or with someone else significant in your child’s life, we want to get to know you, and we want to know who your children are. The kind of information we’ll ask you for is the kind of information you’ll already know – like the ages and routines of the children and what your relationship is like with the children’s other parent.

Lawyers don’t have to be involved in making arrangements for the care of children. Many couples separate and organise the parenting arrangements informally between themselves. So if you’re considering seeing a lawyer, you will likely be worried about something, be afraid of something, be struggling with the current arrangements, or want to bring about a change. Or you may just want some assurance about the future and what your options are. Whichever the case, the best thing that we can do is listen to your story, and then give you advice that is tailored to you, your children, and the priorities of your family.

You might like to think about:

  • What’s the reason that I feel like I want to speak to a lawyer?
  • What is most important for my children?
  • What am I worried about or afraid of?
  • What do I want to change?
  • Is there something that I am struggling with at the moment?
  • What do I want for my children, and why is it important to me?
  • What are my short term and long term goals for my children?

We know that parents want the best outcomes for themselves and their family. Coming with an idea of your answers to these questions will help us make sure our advice is the best advice we can give for you, your children, and your future.

Questions are encouraged

For a lot of people, by the time they’ve enlisted the help of a family lawyer, they’ve already been through a lot of emotional stress and anxiety. So we understand that most people will be nervous and full of questions during their first few meetings. We encourage you to bring a list of concerns to your initial consultation. It’s all a part of getting to know you better, and it helps us as much as it helps you.

For a list of frequently asked questions that may be helpful, you can visit our FAQ page.

Tell your story

While the facts and figures help us figure you out, so does telling your personal story. Sharing your unique history with your family lawyer allows us to advise you in the most appropriate way moving forward, with your ideal outcome and personal priorities in mind. Being prepared to have this conversation will give you time to consider small details you would never have otherwise committed to memory.

And remember that everything you tell your lawyer is confidential.

A lot of people have concerns about consulting a family lawyer. Whether you’re worried about cost or your privacy, or you’re confused or worried about the process, it is our job in that first appointment to be transparent and communicative about your situation, about how the law applies to you, and about what can realistically be achieved (and also what can’t).  We’re here to explain and reassure you of the legal process.