Australia: How to find a family lawyer and make the most of your first conference


Selecting a family lawyer is not a simple matter; you don't take the first you find in your internet search. Preparation before your first conference with your lawyer can also ensure the conference is productive and you get the answers you are seeking.

You should take time to select a lawyer best for your particular needs. Here are some pointers for you to think about:

  • There is nothing wrong with conducting an interview with a lawyer to determine if they are right for you. You will have the opportunity to ask questions to determine their level of experience, see how they interact with you and whether they speak plain English. You will also find out whether their style fits with yours and see if the two of you are a good fit.
  • Be prepared that a good, experienced lawyer will not tell you what you want to hear - rather they will tell you what you need to hear. Therein lies the difference for many. It's not always an easy message for the lawyer to deliver. It takes integrity and confidence, but that's the least you should expect from your family lawyer. Your lawyer should be honest and use their experience to guide you in progressing your case.
  • If you have young children, look for a lawyer who will make clear that you will need to put their needs first and that they will not simply act as a mouthpiece for you if you are making unreasonable demands in relation to your children. A family lawyer who is aware of the importance of your children is an asset in your case. Your lawyer will be integral in joining you to write your child's "divorce story" and it is essential to have a family lawyer who will take you through the process to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family.
  • If your matter involves complicated property structures select a firm that has a commercial law department who can assist where necessary. Also ensure that your lawyer has close working relationships with other financial experts who have knowledge in that area.
  • It will be necessary through the process to share very personal details about your life, your marriage and your finances. It is very important that you feel comfortable with the lawyer you pick.
  • Most importantly, you should select a lawyer who will share and support your attitude to your divorce and one that will not escalate matters simply to increase the legal fees that you spend on your matter.

Once you have selected a lawyer (or lawyers) that you think will be able to assist you, the next step is generally a first conference with the lawyer.

Seeing a lawyer for the first time can be very daunting, especially at a time when you are already feeling vulnerable. Your first meeting is important because it is an opportunity for you to get as much direction and clarity as you can as to what to do next. So, what can you do to help your lawyer provide value for money from your first meeting?


Understanding the role your lawyer will play before your initial meeting will help you properly prepare for your first meeting; which is the next essential step. It is important to set your expectations now on what your lawyer can and cannot help you with. This will also give you clarity on what questions to ask.

So, what can your family lawyer help you with? They can:

  • advise you about your legal rights and responsibilities in regards to divorce, parenting, child support, spouse maintenance and property.
  • act as a buffer between you and your former partner, to engage in negotiations to reach agreement about the division of your property and/or parenting of your children.
  • help you develop an action plan, create practical solutions to problems which can be resolved independently from the legal system and determine which solutions would best suit your circumstances
  • connect with other professionals to assist you in dealing with any family violence such as police and to also assist you with non-legal problems arising from your separation including, financial advisors, accountants, mortgage brokers, and mental health professionals

What your lawyer cannot do is:

  • help you emotionally recover from the breakdown of your relationship
  • help you change or alter your former spouse's attitude, personality or parenting styles; or
  • help you with any problems that are not legally based


As Winston Churchill said "Fail to plan, plan to fail". Being organised and prepared for your first meeting will limit the work your lawyer will have to do to provide you with the initial advice you need. What a lawyer can advise you on greatly depends on the facts and information you give them and your defined goals. The work you do before your first meeting like gathering, organising and making note of the relevant information will provide your lawyer with essential information, therefore, they can spend more time on your advice rather than helping you gather the information required.

For example, if you are seeking advice about property matters, it is very helpful to have to hand:

  • A list of all assets in your name, your former partners name, or joint names, with your best estimate of the value of each asset. If the assets include companies, it is helpful to know the names of each entity and, if possible, who owns shares in each entity;
  • A list of all the liabilities in your name, your former partners name, or joint names, with details of the funds owed under each liability;
  • Detail on the value of each of your superannuation interests;
  • Details of what (if anything) each of you owned when you commenced living together;
  • Any information you might have about (substantial) gifts of money or inheritances received by either of you;
  • An overview of your current living expenses.

If you are seeking advice about parenting matters, your lawyer will be assisted in advising you if you are able to tell them:

  • The full names and dates of birth of each child;
  • Where the children are currently living;
  • Where the children attend school/daycare/preschool;
  • The children's weekly routine – i.e. extracurricular activities, sports and the like;
  • How much time the children are currently spending with each child;
  • Any additional needs your child might have;
  • Any concerns you have for the children in the other parent's care;
  • Whether the other parent has put forward any proposals about the arrangements for the children.

Take your time to pick a lawyer that is most appropriate for you and one who will give you the support and has the knowledge to make a world of difference in your divorce experience.

For further information please contact:

Monique Robb, Senior Associate
Phone: + 61 2 9233 5544

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.