If you are separating from your spouse, you may experience significant financial impact. Instead of two parties sharing the same household costs, you and your spouse will now have to pay for separate accommodation and will have to fund separate households. Two households will mean more expenses for you.
Besides funds for the additional household costs, you may need the services of a lawyer to represent you to secure a fair share of the assets in the property division or to obtain court orders protecting your child’s interest in parenting disputes.
How can you then minimise your legal costs?
Being calm and making rational decisions are easier said than done as it is only normal to be affected emotionally when a dispute arises with the person you have shared your life with. When dealing with separation, it is time to take a deep breath, attend counselling if required for support, and attempt to discuss the property split and children related matters in a calm manner with your former spouse. Rather than jumping straight into the family court, consider alternative dispute resolution as a means to resolve the dispute. This includes seeking the assistance of a mediator to act as an independent third party between you and your spouse. A skilled mediator can help parties focus on the issues at hand to reach a resolution. If you and your spouse can communicate and work through the issues impacting on the separation, you will be able to enter into consent court orders to record the terms of the property split and the parenting arrangements. This will save you loads of money in legal costs in having the dispute litigated in the family court. It is however important to seek legal advice before you enter into negotiations with your former spouse so that you understand your rights and entitlements under the family law.
Separation and disputes about property and children are highly stressful and it may be hard to organise your life let alone the documents required by your lawyer. However, higher legal costs will only add to this stress. Hence, it is important you give your best shot to organise the documentation required and your communication with your lawyer.
Collate all your financial documents in a coherent order and provide these documents when requested by your lawyer. This includes your pay slips, tax returns, notices of assessment, superannuation statements, bank and credit card statements, loan and mortgage documentation, contracts for the sale and purchase of properties and settlement statements. Make a list of your monthly expenses for yourself, your children and the running of the household. If there are child related disputes, obtain the relevant children’s documents. This may include school reports, medical reports or counselling records. Keep a diary of important events impacting on your child and the relationship with the other parent. You will save legal costs if your lawyer does not have to follow up with third parties on your behalf for your documents or having to chase you up for documents to meet court-imposed deadlines or having to collate your documents in a coherent and chronological order.
Similarly, be organised with your communication with your lawyer. Resist the urge to write an email whenever a thought crosses your head, or a minor event occurs. Unless the matter is urgent, consider writing one email a week collating all your queries, thoughts and responses. In this way, you will not act reactively and instead will focus on the larger picture. This will save legal costs as your lawyer will not have to read and respond to your numerous emails.
Consider what is important to you and what you hope to achieve. Communicate this with your lawyer. This means that you will not be distracted by smaller issues that arise during the course of the separation and the dispute between the parties. Consider what it will take to achieve your goals. For example:-
- If you wish to retain the family home, seek out a mortgage broker or bank first to assess your financial position to see whether you are eligible for a loan to buy out your spouse’s share rather than instruct your lawyer to make this proposal without knowing whether you will have the financial means to secure a loan;
- If you believe that you are entitled to a far larger split of the property division on the basis you brought in substantial funds from savings accumulated prior to the start of the relationship, you will need to find documents from your records or from your bank to support your claim;
- If your goal is to obtain substantial time with your children such as a “50-50” split during the school term and school holidays, consider whether you can arrange your job commitments to achieve this goal before making this application.
Appoint the right lawyer for your matter
Finally, select the right lawyer for you and your matter. The best way to select a suitable lawyer is by: –
- having a consultation with the family lawyer to consider their legal opinion and to assess whether they understand your family law issues and whether their communication style suits you;
- considering the family lawyer’s experience and skills and whether he or she has dealt with similar cases;
- considering their website and the articles, videos and testimonials posted.
In addition, consider whether you will feel comfortable working with the lawyer. Family law cases deal with personal matters, and you must be prepared to be honest and open with your lawyer. Hence, it is important to have a personal connection with your family lawyer.
Robertson Hayles Lawyers
Robertson Hayles Lawyers would be able to assist you in your family law matter. Our family lawyers are experienced in all aspects of family law from highly contentious child custody and parenting disputes to property division involving complex asset pools. We bring a blend of practical experience in family law with expertise in multiple areas of the law impacting a family matter such as property, trust and commercial law. This provides a holistic approach to managing your family law matter.
We understand that family law focuses on you, your life and your children’s future. Being “client centred” and committed to resolving your family law matter in your best interest means we provide you with honest and practical advice. It also means being upfront about our legal costs and regularly reviewing the efficiency of the strategy in your family law matter.
For all enquiries, please get in touch with the family lawyers at Robertson Hayles Lawyers at (08) 9325 1700 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via our contact form on our website, and we will be happy to assist you with your family law matter.