When Do I Need A Family Lawyer (In A Separation)?

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When Do I Need A Family Lawyer (In A Separation)?

Written by: Adam Wightman l Legal Team


Separation from a spouse or partner can be an extremely stressful and confusing time.  Having to deal with painful emotions, whilst also needing to address numerous practical issues can make many people feel completely overwhelmed.

You may suddenly find yourself in a situation where you need to navigate a myriad of challenges, ranging from organising care arrangements for children, negotiating financial issues, and also dealing with tension and conflict within the family.

One of the questions that many people have following separation is whether they need to engage a family lawyer, and if so, when should they first go to see a family lawyer?

In answering these questions, it is important to understand that the old adage of ‘knowledge is power’ is never more relevant than in the period leading up to, and during a separation.  It is also important to understand that most family lawyers offer a free initial, no obligation, confidential appointment – and we do too!

We, therefore, advise that anyone contemplating or undertaking a separation arrange to meet with a family lawyer as soon as possible so that you can be armed with the correct information about your legal rights and the processes involved in dealing with their family law matter.

Did you know that Canny Legal specialises in family relationships and domestic matters?  We know how delicate family law issues can be, so we take the time to understand your bigger picture.  We also offer assistance with:

Changes to the family unit can be unsettling for parents and also for children.  As one of the most sensitive and complex areas of law, it makes sense to reach out to an expert on family law in Geelong!

Finding Your Family Law Lawyer

An initial meeting with a family lawyer can help to place you in the best ‘strategic position’, and also pre-emptively identify potential urgent issues, which may assist you to avoid problems arising in the future and ensuring that you remain out of the Court system.

The main areas that family lawyers address following a separation are:

  • Care arrangements for children;
  • The division of assets; and
  • Financial support.

In more conflictual situations, a family lawyer can also assist with the need to protect a spouse or children from family violence issues.

By meeting early with a family lawyer, they can help you to make urgent practical decisions that can ‘set the tone’ for the remainder of your family law matter.  Issues such as:

  • Who will reside in the family home;
  • Who will pay the bills immediately following separation;
  • Who will have primary care of the children; and
  • Whether an Intervention Order is necessary.

These issues can be greatly affected by the urgent, practical decisions that you make during the separation process.  The outcome of these strategic decisions can have long-lasting effects on the ultimate outcomes in your family law matter, and for this reason, it is best to meet with a family lawyer to discuss these as early as possible (or even prior to) the separation process.

Expert Legal Advice

At the free initial appointment, our lawyers will also assess all of the relevant factors in your matter and provide you with specialised, tailored advice as to ‘where you stand’ legally in the long term in relation to your final financial settlement and/or the long term care arrangements for the children.  Our lawyers will also provide you with information as to the processes and timelines involved in finalising your family law matter, and the costs and payment options available.

Another benefit of meeting early with our family lawyers for a free initial appointment is to ensure that you are able to secure your favourite lawyer, before your spouse ‘gets in first’ and meets with that lawyer, thereby preventing you from using that lawyer due to a ‘conflict of interest’.  Once you have had your initial meeting with your family lawyer, your spouse or partner will be prevented from engaging that lawyer in the future.

Financial Settlements + Property Settlements

Regardless of whether you rush to meet with a family lawyer as soon as possible, or you take your time to assess the situation, at a minimum, you will likely ultimately require the services of a family lawyer to negotiate or at least legally formalise your family law property settlement/financial settlement.

The formal liabilities held by you or your spouse can either occur by way of agreement (the preferable method) or where parties cannot agree, Family Court proceedings may be necessary.

When parties can agree on the division of their assets and liabilities (either through direct negotiation or with the assistance of lawyers negotiating on their behalf) this agreement must be formalised by way of Court Orders (which can occur with only one spouse engaging a lawyer to complete and lodge the documents) or by way of an out of Court Binding Financial Agreement.  However, the out of Court Binding Financial Agreement requires both spouses to have their own lawyers.

You will not be legally financially separated from your spouse until such time as a financial family law property settlement Court Order or Binding Financial Agreement is made.

However, where one spouse may be acting unreasonably and the parties are unable to agree on the division of their assets, then it may ultimately become necessary for Family Court.

proceedings to be issued, to resolve the dispute.  This process involves the preparation and filing of specialised Court documents, and the need to appear and speak before the Court.

Family Court Proceedings

It is highly recommended that anyone contemplating Family Court proceedings engage a family lawyer to ace on their behalf to prepare the documents and conduct the Court hearings, as this will ensure that they receive the best possible outcome.

However, Family Court proceedings can be extremely stressful and costly, and all steps should be taken to ensure that they are avoided.  It is for this reason that we recommend that anyone undergoing or contemplating a separation should meet with one of our family lawyers at Canny Legal for a free, no obligation, confidential initial appointment as soon as possible.

Canny Legal + Family Law Geelong

Your family law lawyer at Canny Legal will be able to help guide you through this difficult time, whilst also establishing the necessary legal framework to enable you to ‘move on’ and make the most of this new phase in your life.

Get in touch with our team if you are separating or contemplating a separation.  We will be able to help organise a free initial appointment with our expert family lawyers!

Pictured, Adam Wightman standing with his hands in his pockets and a big smile on his face. Adam's position in our team "Director + Head of Canny Legal" as well, a dark blue circle with a little bit of information about ADam.

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