5 tips for starting your family law journey
Whether you have been separated for some time or only very recently, deciding to engage a lawyer to start your family law journey can be daunting. Aside from choosing the right lawyer to work with, your mind will be full of swirling questions about how to move forward, what the law says, whether you can stay in the house, how the separation will impact you financially, and others.
Here are 5 tips to help you when starting out on your family law journey. We hope they assist.
1. Your children are your priority
If you have children then no matter what happens when you separate from your partner, your children must remain your priority. With emotions running high, and crisis mode has begun, you will at some point focus on yourself. It is natural to do this. A relationship that you have had with a person you love or once loved has ended. You will feel a sense of loss. There will be times when you can think of nothing but getting through the pain you are suffering.
There will also be times when your partner is behaving badly and you want nothing more than to match them with their taunts and accusations. Don’t. It’s not worth it in the long run.
By keeping your children at the front of your mind, you will ensure that your decisions and actions are based on providing them with the support they will need through this process.
2. Think about what property you have
Before seeking advice about a property settlement, it is helpful for both you, and your lawyer, if you firstly sit down and work out what property you have and what value you think each item of property has.
Your property might include real property including your home; investment properties (whether you own these properties yourself, with someone else, or as part of a company or family trust). It also might include vehicles, money in the bank, shares & other investments and the contents in your home. If you have companies or family trust structures it may include those structures. Property also includes any debt which attaches to any asset such as a mortgage or margin lending loan, along with personal loans. Superannuation is also included as property whether held in a normal fund or self managed fund.
See if you can put together documents that show the value of the property that you have e.g a bank statement, property valuation or most recent superannuation statement.
You may need to talk to your financial advisor or accountant about what you have particularly if you are not sure. Sometimes one person in the relationship knows all the financial information and the other person doesn’t and that’s okay. Just pull together what you can.
3. Think about what you want to achieve to resolve your matter before you come, and take time to write down any questions that you might have?
Whilst the outcome in your matter will likely be determined by applying the law relevant to your circumstances, it is still very important to consider your goals – the things that you want to achieve in resolving your matter. These may change after you have received advice about outcomes but setting goals will give you a clear direction to know where you are heading.
Think about the main questions that you want to ask. It is likely that you will have lots of things, questions, worries swirling around in your mind. Writing them down can help focus you to the important issues. A list of questions will also help your lawyer give you advice about those things which are concerning you along with other advice you might need.
You can take notes and write down key points but remember it is also important to listen. You have invested your money in getting answers to your questions. Your lawyer may offer, and if they don’t, you should ask for them to send you a short letter or email after the attendance summarising the key points. There may be an extra fee for this service depending on the lawyer you go to, however it will be worth the investment particularly where you find that when you get home, your mind goes blank and you can’t remember some of the information and advice you received.
4. Come with an open mind – the advice you have received from well-meaning friends and family might not be the right advice for you
You will often come across friends and family who have had to deal with similar legal matters to you, particularly in personal law matters such as family law. Whilst it is important to be supported by friends and family through any dispute that you might be facing, your matter is different from those around you. Your family and circumstances surrounding your family are unique to you. There is no one size fits all advice.
It may also be the case that your friends and family, as well meaning as they are, do not have all of the information or legal knowledge to give you proper advice about your matter. It is not the case that you shouldn’t listen to your friends and accept their support – simply be aware that unless they are lawyers, practicing in the field in which you are experiencing problems, that the ‘advice’ they give you might not always be right for you.
5. Look after yourself
Above all – look after yourself. It is a stressful time. There is no detriment to you whatsoever to seek professional assistance whether from a Counsellor or Psychologist to help you through this time. You might seek assistance for the loss you are feeling from the end of your relationship. You might also find it helpful to seek assistance in how you might better engage with the other parent in the particular circumstances of your separation.
If you have a mental illness or suffer with mental illness from time to time, you should check in with your medical professionals to help you to deal with those similar issues. The end of your relationship is significant and whilst you might think you are ‘dealing with it’ okay, the stress and anxiety in resolving, particularly your parenting matter might trigger issues for you. It is best to seek help and be on the front foot so that you can continue to be there for your child or children.
If you are starting out on your family law journey and we can assist you further, please contact us here