3 Reasons you Don’t Need a Family Lawyer

This may seem like an odd thing to say when Honan Family Law has only just opened our doors, but you may not need our help! Here are 3 reasons you don’t need a family lawyer.

1.To communicate with your former partner about day to day matters regarding your children

Most family lawyers will charge on a “time costing” basis. This means that every time you communicate with your lawyer and then they communicate with your former partner or their solicitor, you will pay for that time. If you are using your family lawyer to communicate about Sally leaving her homework book at your house or Jack’s ear drops, your legal fees will escalate very quickly. The Family Courts may also take a negative view of your parenting case if you cannot communicate directly with the other parent.  

Where safe to do so, day to day matters regarding your children should be communicated directly to the other parent.  Where there are communication difficulties with your former partner or there has been family violence you should speak to a professional (like a family therapist or social worker) to assist you in developing strategies to communicate effectively and safely with the other parent.  You could also consider creating a dedicated email account for parenting communication or consider using a parenting app like Our Family Wizard, Cozi or 2Houses.

What you do need your family lawyer’s help with is preparing or reviewing Parenting Plans or Parenting Orders that reflect your parenting agreement. Getting expert legal advice before signing off on these documents makes it less likely you will have stressful (and potentially expensive) problems down the track.

2. To collate your financial disclosure documents

When negotiating a property settlement or being involved in court proceedings, each party has an obligation to make “full and frank disclosure” of his or her financial circumstances. This means you will need to provide your former partner with financial documents including:

  • your three most recent tax returns and notices of assessment;
  • your bank statements for the previous 12 months;
  • your three most recent payslips; and
  • a current statement for each of your superannuation policies.

These documents can be collated by you or with the assistance of a family member or friend (or your accountant if needed).   

Where you do need your family lawyer’s help is to ensure that you have completely discharged your duty of disclosure, as your individual financial circumstances may require you to provide additional documents. There could be cost consequences or your court application could be stayed or dismissed, so getting your disclosure right is imperative.

3. To work out what assets you should retain as part of your financial settlement for your financial future

A financial planner is best placed to discuss your financial goals and what assets will assist you reach those goals.  Whilst there may be an emotional attachment to an asset of the property pool (for example the former matrimonial property), selling the house and downsizing might be the best financial strategy to reach your financial goals.

Where you do need your family lawyer’s help is to get advice about your range of entitlements in the property settlement. Getting this information before you obtain your financial advice will assist the financial advisor in calculating what assets you need to seek to retain to fall within your likely range of entitlements.