What to bring along to your first family law appointment

Photo of romer maud family lawyers speaking to a client in their first appointment

Attending your first appointment with a family lawyer can sometimes feel a little nerve-wracking. The good news is that there are some very simple things you can do to prepare yourself. In this Romer Maud Family Lawyers blog, our Co-Founder and Principal Aimee Maud offers preparation tips and advice on what to bring along for your first family law appointment.

What to bring along to your first family law appointment?

At Romer Maud Family Lawyers, our first appointments with clients are ‘Clarity and Direction’ appointments. In these appointments, we listen to your story, provide you with advice and options to put your mind at ease, and help you to start your journey towards resolution.

It’s only natural that you might have a list of specific questions for us. If this is the case, we encourage you to please bring them along. If you’re not sure what you need to ask, rest assured we will lead the conversation and ask questions about your situation. This will help us make sure that you receive the most useful and appropriate advice for your matter.

Sounds good. Are there specific documents I should bring?

When it comes to what to bring for your first discussion with us, if you don’t have any documents to provide or only minimal information to offer, that’s okay! We can still assist and provide you with helpful guidance during your appointment.

If you are able to go back and find certain documentation relevant to your case (see our lists below), this can be very helpful for us as your family lawyers.

Collecting your documents sooner rather than later means that we can make progress on your case as quickly and efficiently as possible. Having them organised and ready can also give you peace of mind, enable you to understand your current situation, and then plan for the future.

Understanding Financial Disclosure

For financial cases, you will usually be required to undergo a process of full and frank financial disclosure. This process requires you and your ex-partner to exchange essential financial documents.

Financial disclosure means that you each have full transparency in relation to each other’s financial affairs. This enables your lawyers to ascertain the value of the assets and liabilities from your relationship, and advise on an appropriate settlement outcome. Keep in mind that gathering financial documents (if you can) is time-consuming, so starting early is best.

I can’t access my financial documents, what can I do?

We understand that it’s not always possible to get access to your financial documents, particularly if your ex-spouse has been in control of the finances, or you have experienced family violence. Rest assured, there are other legal avenues we can take to get proper access to the financial details of the relationship and ensure you get the transparency you’re entitled to.

When you’re going through a separation, having a personal (secure, and accessible only by you!) cloud-based or physical file containing important legal and financial documents can help you stay organised and ensure you’ve got any evidence ready, in the event you need it.

Here are lists of some of the documents and information that can be relevant for family law matters.

Documents and Information for Financial Cases:

  • Dates your relationship commenced, the date and place of marriage (if applicable), date you separated, date of divorce (if applicable). 
  • A list of all assets and liabilities owned by you and your partner currently / at the time of separation. 
  • A list of all assets and liabilities owned by you and your partner at the commencement of your relationship. 
  • Details of any contributions you and/or your ex-partner made during the relationship, for example inheritances you might have received, Work Cover or TAC payouts, lottery wins, loans from parents etc.
  • Your payslips. 
  • Superannuation Benefit Statement for you and your spouse; 
  • Your last 3 tax returns (full and complete copies, not just the notice of assessment); 
  • A Redbook valuation for any vehicles registered in your name; 
  • Centrelink statements; 
  • Share portfolios;  
  • Market valuations or appraisals for real estate held in your name or your spouse’s name;  
  • Bank statements; 
  • Credit card statements; 
  • Loan documentation; 
  • Trust deeds, trust tax returns and financial statements;  
  • Company tax returns and financial statements; 
  • Any other details or documents relevant to your financial position.

Documents and Information for Parenting Cases:

  • Full names and dates of birth of any children from the relationship and any special needs they may have.
  • Details of the current care arrangements, eg: which parent cares for the child on which days and nights of the week, where and how do you do your changeovers, how do you generally communicate with the other parent / caregiver? 
  • A brief chronology of the parenting arrangements during the relationship, eg: did either parent take time off work or reduce their work to care for children? 
  • Copies of any previous orders, parenting plans or agreements in writing about parenting arrangements.
  • Copies of any current or previous family violence intervention orders.

How to provide these documents to your lawyer?

At Romer Maud, once you have engaged us as your lawyers we will let you know when to send through your documents. We have a secure online portal where you can upload and share documents, or we can use email. If you struggle with technology, we can of course receive the documents by post. As a technology-enabled and environmentally conscious firm, we operate in a primarily paperless environment, so electronic sharing of documents is preferred, and usually the quickest and most cost- effective option.

Starting The Process Of Separation? We're Here To Help

Starting the process of separation can require some important admin, but with the expert advice and compassionate support of Romer Maud, you will have the confidence to calmly and thoroughly work through your matters. To book a Clarity and Direction appointment with our team – click the button below.

*This post is an overview only and should not be considered as legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

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