Choosing to engage a family lawyer can be daunting and no easy task. If you’ve been down the google rabbit hole and searched “family lawyer in my area” chances are there are 100’s to choose from.
Choosing the right lawyer for you is likely to be one of the most important decisions you will make in the process of your separation. Why? Because this is the person you will place your trust in wholeheartedly to be in your corner, whether it be to sort out the division of assets or to articulate what is in the best interests of your children. This person will probably be a stranger and you are about to pour your heart out and tell them every intricate detail of your life.
Here are my suggestions for choosing and engaging a Family Lawyer –
- Ask for referrals. If you can be referred to a family lawyer by someone who has used this person in their separation then this is a good start. Often your GP, counsellor, accountant may have worked with a family lawyer and may have some local knowledge on who may suit your needs.
- Engage a Family Law Specialist or a lawyer that has had at least 7-10 years experience. A good family lawyer needs to have a knowledge of many areas of law including, property, business, bankruptcy, tax, children’s issues, criminal law.
- Once you have a short list and if your matter isn’t urgent make an appointment with all of them. Most lawyers will give either a free consult or half hour free consult. Use this time wisely and like you are interviewing them for the job.
- A good family lawyer will outline all of your options and should give you the best and worst case scenarios. They should be non-judgemental, respectful to your needs and able to show empathy but will not always agree with you. Remember you are paying for their expert advice not to be your friend and you may not always like what you hear but this is why you are paying them for their expertise.
- You will be divulging quite a bit of personal information so consider whether you would like a male or female, someone your age or older or younger.
- Ask what their costs are upfront. You can expect to pay from $400+ (+ GST) an hour for a good family lawyer. REMEMBER – every time you call, text, email, set foot in their office you are on the clock so use your time wisely.
- Don’t leave getting advice too late. Whilst you may not wish to take the matter any further than the advice stage. Being well informed is the key. What you do with that information, should you not continue with a lawyer, is then up to you.