By Alex Reeves, Family Law Writer in Australia
Going through a divorce is not easy. There is a lot to think about, and you’ll experience a lot of change. These changes can be overwhelming and make it difficult to make decisions. This is when hiring experienced divorce lawyers can make all the difference.
A divorce lawyer can help you with any or all aspects of divorce, from simple legal advice to guiding you through every step.
To make the divorce process and working with a divorce lawyer even easier, there are some things you can do to help you prepare. We’ve put together some information to help when you’re preparing to hire a divorce lawyer, but first, let’s talk about what a divorce lawyer is and the different ways they can help you.
What is a Divorce Lawyer?
A divorce lawyer is a legal professional who practices family law. Their primary role is to ensure their client’s rights are protected and upheld during the divorce or separation process. These rights could be about the division of property and assets or parenting and child custody arrangements.
What Can a Divorce Lawyer Help You With?
A divorce lawyer can perform various tasks to help clients through their legal divorce or separation. Some of these include:
- Providing sound and accurate legal advice on a variety of matters relating to their divorce, including property settlement matters and parenting matters, to allow their clients to make informed decisions;
- Accurately complete and file paperwork relating to a client’s case.;
- Provide various dispute resolution options that the client may not be aware of;
- Help the client to gather supporting evidence for their case; and
- Ensure their clients understand their legal rights and obligations.
A divorce lawyer’s role is vast, varied, and extremely important.
How to Ensure You’re Getting the Best From Your Divorce Lawyer
Unless you’ve been through a separation or divorce before, it’s very unlikely that you will know what to expect when preparing to hire a divorce lawyer. Most people have never engaged in the services of a lawyer, so when doing so during this already overwhelming time, the idea of meeting with a lawyer can be very daunting.
A lawyer needs to learn a lot about you and your situation, so we’ve gathered some information about what your divorce lawyer will need to know about you.
Preparing the following information will help you make the most of your time with your divorce lawyer.
Summary of Your Relationship and History
As we touched on above, your lawyer has a lot of information they need to learn about you and your circumstances, so providing them with key details of your relationship is a great start for a separation or divorce.
Some of the things they will likely need to know are the following:
- How long you and your former partner were together;
- When you started living together (particularly important for de facto relationships);
- The date of your marriage;
- The date of separation;
- If you have children, their names, ages, and current living arrangements.
Assets and Debts Information
As a separation and divorce will almost always involve a property settlement agreement where the property and assets of the former couple will be divided between them, it’s vital to know what these assets are.
The property and assets can include things that were acquired by each person individually or jointly and may include items that were acquired before the relationship, during the relationship, and sometimes even after the separation.
Some of the types of assets and liabilities that you may have include:
- Family home;
- Other real estates;
- Cars and vehicles;
- Credit card, mortgage, and personal loan debts.
The way property and assets, debts, and liabilities are managed in a property settlement differs from relationship to relationship and can depend on many variables. While many people may think they each person will get a 50/50 split of the property and assets, people who may have primary care responsibilities of children, those who may not be able to work or earn an income on the same level as the other person, and those who are in a financially weaker position may be likely to have a larger share of the assets. However, in determining the split, contributions to the relationship and assets acquirement, including financial, non-financial, direct, and indirect contributions, will be considered when creating the property settlement arrangement.
Income and Employment Details
To aid in the property settlement process, your lawyer must understand you and your former spouse’s income and employment details. It’s usually a good idea to provide a thorough history, including any information about periods when either person may not have been able to work, whether it was due to childcare, injury, or inability to secure employment.
This information will be used to assess the contributions to the relationship and the earning capabilities and capacity in the future. Ongoing and future needs are considered when determining a property settlement split.
As we mentioned above, future needs are considered during the division of assets, so it’s important to understand your expenses and living requirements.
What You Would Like to Achieve
It’s a lawyer’s job to get the best outcome for you and your family, including in a divorce. So, when preparing to hire a divorce lawyer, you need to think about what you would like to achieve in your divorce. Whether it’s to do with property settlements or parenting matters, providing this information to your lawyer will allow them to understand what they may need to do to achieve this, as well as provide you with information about what is possible and ensure you understand all of your rights and obligations.
Alex Reeves is a content writer who has spent many years studying the legal system in Australia, with a genuine interest in the Australian Family Law system and the effects of divorce. He regularly contributes to legal blogs and websites about various aspects of family law matters in Australia.