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

Last Updated: 31 July 2017
Article by Monique Robb


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.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
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”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
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
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions