If you’re going through some sort of family upheaval, one of the toughest decisions you’ll face is whether legal intervention is required. If it is, you’ll have to decide whether to seek advice from a family lawyer. And that won’t necessarily be easy, either. Although your trepidation is understandable, you should not let it prevent you from seeking help. After all, you are not alone.
Many people have valid concerns about consulting a family lawyer. Some are concerned about cost, and others concerned about maintaining their privacy. Some people are simply intimidated, or confused about the process. Here’s what you should know about your first family law appointment.
How to prepare for your initial appointment
After you’ve scheduled your initial appointment with us, you can start to prepare for the meeting by gathering relevant information. The type of information we’ll need depends on your specific circumstances.
For example, if you are seeking help with the resolution of a family law matter involving your children, you should bring the following:
- Your child’s or children’s birth certificate(s);
- any relevant medical information (documenting their general health or any specific concerns);
- school progress reports and related material;
- police reports and/or DHHS reports (if applicable);
- copies of existing Intervention Orders (if applicable).
On the other hand, if you are seeking help with the resolution of a family law matter involving the division of property, you should bring financial information such as:
- Your tax returns from the past three years;
- your current superannuation statement;
- information pertaining to your bank accounts and balances;
- your most recent credit card or mortgage statement(s).
While this material gives us valuable insight into your circumstances, don’t worry if you don’t have or can’t access some of this information prior to your first meeting. We’ll let you know if we need additional information during your initial consultation.
Steps you can take to help you feel at ease
By the time most people enlist the help of a family lawyer they have already been through tremendous stress and emotional turmoil. Therefore, we fully understand when clients or prospective clients are nervous during their first meetings. With this in mind, we expect that they’ll also have questions for us, and encourage them to bring a list of questions and concerns to their initial consultation.
What to expect at your first meeting
At this time, your family lawyer will give advice about your situation based on the information you’ve provided. More often than not, this will include information about your legal rights and entitlements and the options for resolution of your family law issues.
To facilitate this process, you may want to bring any material related to past or ongoing court proceedings to your first meeting. If you are currently represented by another lawyer, you may also want to bring any correspondence and documents that you have on hand.
Finally, if you are seeking assistance with a family law matter involving your child/children and you have attended mediation or another form of counselling, you should also bring:
- Any parenting plans drafted by the mediator;
- certificates of attendance and/or completion.
Providing this material for the first meeting will allow the lawyer to have a frank and reasonably informed discussion about key issues. These may include but are not limited to:
- The amount of time each parent should spend with the children;
- and the available safety provisions to protect the children during their visits (if necessary).
At Harris Lieberman, we have extensive experience helping clients resolve family law matters. So don’t let your concerns keep you from seeking the help you need from qualified and compassionate legal professionals. Contact us to schedule your first meeting today.