It is important when engaging a family lawyer to choose the right family lawyer to assist you with the challenging personal circumstances that follow a separation from a spouse. Not only is choosing someone with expertise invaluable, it is important to choose a family lawyer that you can work well and form a good working relationship with so you can obtain the best possible outcome in the most cost effective way, in the least amount of time.
Here are our 5 tips for choosing a family lawyer:
Ask around for a referral
Would you go see a surgeon unless they had been highly recommended? Probably not. Treat selecting a family lawyer or family law firm in the same way as you would any other professional service and ask people you trust for a referral
In the current climate where in 2018 there were 49,404 Divorces in Australia, most people know someone who has separated from their spouse and has been in similar circumstances. Speak with these people about their experience and whether they would recommend their family lawyer. Alternatively, your accountant, financial advisor or even your psychologist maybe able to recommend a family lawyer.
Use an expert
You may have seen in the newspaper or online the possible changes and reviews to the family law system and the process in which it operates. The constant process of change in the family law courts means that family lawyers who specialise in family law must continuously keep up to date with the changes in laws and the various cases that the Family Court determines.
This means that choosing a lawyer who practices predominantly in family law will be the best suited to represent you and advance your matter to a resolution. Also, lawyers who practice predominantly in family law generally know the best family law barristers, family report writers and mediators who can assist in advancing your matter who also predominantly practice in family law.
Meet your lawyer
Make an appointment to meet with your chosen family lawyer to discuss the process, your expectations and assess whether the lawyer you have been recommended, is the right fit for you.
During this appointment, you should consider whether you will work well with this lawyer, do you feel comfortable with them and will you be able to communicate effectively and honestly with them. As with all personal relationships, if you feel comfortable and can speak openly with them, you are likely to be able to form a successful relationship.
Identify your budget
Generally family lawyers charge an hourly rate and these costs will be outlined in a costs agreement which you are required to enter into with the family law firm. Our firm also provides you with regular costs estimates throughout each stage of your matter to ensure that you are aware and informed about the costs involved in each stage of your family law matter.
Unfortunately, legal fees are notoriously difficult to estimate and are affected by a range of things outside of your lawyer’s control such as how your former partner conducts themselves in the process of finalising your matter.
If your lawyer is not open and transparent about the potential costs, especially after you have asked about costs, then you should consider engaging another family lawyer.
Irrespective of this, don’t choose your lawyer based on costs alone. While some family law firms may charge slightly lower rates than others, ascertain whether your chosen family law firm actively tries to minimise your legal fees by either giving you ‘homework’ or having a more junior family lawyer assist with work on your matter under a senior practitioners supervision therefore reducing your fees.
While you are likely to be feeling a variety of emotions including sadness, anger and frustration, separation from your partner and the process of dividing your assets and resolving parenting matters is a legal process. Your family lawyer’s role is to represent you to the best of their ability by providing you with information to assist you to make the most informed decisions possible taking into account all relevant factors.
While as family lawyers we understand the emotion and changes you are going through, it can be an expensive use of our time emailing or speaking with us about the emotional aspects of your circumstances.
Be realistic about your family lawyer’s role and how the information you are providing to them can assist the process.
By following these steps, we hope you can select the right family lawyer to act on your behalf and give you the best chance of an optimal result for value for money.
Our Brisbane Family Lawyers can assist you with all of your family law concerns. Contact us today on (07) 3532 3826 for a private, fixed fee consultation to see if we are the right fit for you.