For many clients, seeing a lawyer about separation or another family law matter is the first time they’ve had a reason to see any lawyer. Understandably, one of their biggest concerns is how much this process will cost.
The cost of a matter is a topic we are often asked about at South East Lawyers and one that is always tinged with fear. It’s a common perception that lawyers will cost a lot of money. Whilst this can be true, there are definitely things you can do to keep the costs of your family lawyer to a minimum. To help prepare you, South East Lawyer’s family lawyer Courtney Salter shares 3 tips for keeping your legal costs down:
Tip 1: Have your financial information ready
The most effective way of keeping costs down is to collate a record of your financial information and related documents, and have them ready to present to your family lawyer. If you can access any of this information before you see us, it will ensure we do not have to waste your time and money chasing you to provide each document.
Here is a list of the common documents and information we request from you:
- Your 6 most recent pay slips
- Bank statements for the last 12 months (for all accounts – sole, joint, and ones that you are a trustee for)
- Your 3 most recent Tax Returns and Notices of Assessment
- A current superannuation balance preferably from your fund (if you can’t access that your myGov account has only the most recent balance information that, your super fund provided them, which can be a great start)
- If you have a company, we will ask for 12 months of bank statements, 3 of your most recent Tax Returns and Financial Statements, a current Profit and Loss Statement, and a Balance Sheet.
- If you have a family trust, a copy of the Trust Deed, and all related financial information
- If you have a Self-Managed Super Fund details of the commencement of the fund, initial contributions, current member statements, details for the accountants assisting with the Fund
- Market appraisal for any real estate held either solely or jointly with any other person
- Redbook valuations for any vehicles owned by either party
- Current statements for any shares, investments, or other assets held
If you don’t have access to these documents and you don’t know the details of the assets that you hold, don’t worry. This is not uncommon, and we frequently remind people that in any relationship, there’s often one party who is responsible for the financial matters, and one who isn’t. If you are the party who isn’t in charge of your financial matters, that’s ok. We have ways and means of getting around this, so don’t let it frighten you.
Tip 2: Create a list of questions that you want answered
Another way to keep your costs down is to create a list of questions you want to ask us – and have them ready to ask either at your meetings or during telephone conversations. We always welcome emails but bulking verbal questions can really help narrow down any issues you might want to address.
Tip 3: Bring someone you trust to your first appointment
This may not seem like an obvious tip for keeping your legal costs down, but having another person with has its benefits. During your first appointment, there can be a lot of information to retain. So a second set of ears is a great way to be sure you caught all the important information the first time, saving you from incurring the cost of requesting to hear it again.
Overall, it’s important to remember keeping your legal costs down when dealing with a family law matter is a reasonable and achievable goal.
At South East Lawyers, we aim to provide you with quality legal advice and support in a way that meets your needs. When there’s an issue that’s concerning, we’ll raise that with you and work hard to see if resolved. To work with our friendly family law team, get in touch here.