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When Maggie came into work today Dave could see that she was visibly distressed and upset. After noticing that she wasn’t chirpy with customers as usual, Dave spoke to her, and she told him that she is getting a divorce from her husband of 5 years. Maggie tells Dave that she wants to make sure that she gets a fair share of their assets and that her children are protected and remain in as stable an environment as possible. Maggie confides in Dave that she hopes to remain in their family home, as it is close to her work and her children can walk to school.

Dave advises Maggie to get a lawyer, so that she has the best chance of settling her divorce peacefully with minimal disruption to her children. Maggie agrees that this is a good idea, however confides in Dave that she is extremely nervous, as she has not been to see a lawyer before, and is unsure how to approach a firm, what she should bring to the initial consultation and what information her lawyers will need to know.

Maggie remains silent and Dave realises that there I an important issue concerning her. Dave has not had a lawyer before, but has heard that it is very expensive. Unsure of how to approach it sensitively, he tells Maggie that he may need her for more shifts if she needs the money. Maggie is grateful, but unsure of how to ask her lawyer about fees.

When Maggie leaves work, she sits down at a computer to see if she can find a lawyer for herself.


Important Tips

  1. The Family Law Act 1975 protects the rights of individuals and families in New South Wales.

  2. Most law firms offer a free initial consultation for clients, to decide whether they can act for you. If unsure, phone the firm and ask.

  3. If you are unmarried but having been living together for more than two years, you may be entitled to property when you separate.

  4. In Australia, you have to live apart for 12 months, and attend mediation, before the courts will grant you a divorce.

  5. The approximate waiting time for the Family Court is 4 years. Mediation is a more effective and efficient way to achieve a settlement between partners.


Q and A

Q: What should I bring to an initial consultation with my lawyer?

A: Firstly, prepare a timeline of events for your lawyer. This is helpful as it will allow you to recall what has happened, and the lawyer will quickly gain an understanding of your situation. It is also helpful to bring to the first meeting a statement of any debts that you have, both personally and collectively, and any assets that you both own. Your assets may be bank statements, investment details and evidence of property ownership.

Q: How can I ask my lawyer what it will all cost, and how do I know that the price is reasonable?

A: It is important to be honest about your expectations of costs with your lawyer. There will be many options for how to handle your case that you and your lawyer will decide together, each option has different costs involved. Discuss with you lawyer how to minimise costs by avoiding lengthy court proceedings.

Q: My ex is unwilling to co-operate, do I need him to be involved with my lawyer?

A: It is advised that each party retains their own representation, because your lawyer is specifically representing you interests, and is only interested in the outcome that best benefits you.


How can E Berman & Co Solicitors help me?

E Berman & Co Solicitors is a Chatswood law firm that has been providing quality legal services to the public since 1984. Contact our office on 9412 2493 – we’re more than happy to have a quick chat! You can also visit us on our website for more information.

The information, including statements, opinions, documents and materials contained in this Chapter is intended for general information only. The Information does not take account of any specific needs you may have, or your specific circumstances, and it is not intended to convey legal advice. If you rely on or use any information provided in the Newsletter you do so at your own risk. If you intend to rely on the information as legal advice you should contact us first, or seek your own legal advice before relying on it. 
© E Berman 2017