FOTU … fear of the unknown

We all become anxious and stressed when confronted with circumstances in which we feel we lack control, where we have more questions than answers, where it all just seems too much.

Separation, and perhaps ultimately divorce, can be enormously stressful, particularly with the potential demands and unknowns of shared parenting. You have enough on your plate already. Our aim is to lighten your load, not add to it. You can help us to help you.

Be prepared

If you arrive hurried and ill-prepared for your first Family Law meeting, much of the meeting will be spent in asking you for information that you may not have with you. Far better for everyone if you have gathered information beforehand.

Perhaps your living arrangements have changed with this separation, you used to be organised, but now, less so? Take the time to make some lists, and work through them. That will really help us, and it will help you to see some order in it all.

We suggest a few folders, to logically order the information and documents. They might be:

  1. Personal: Names, dates of birth, health, education, date of living together/marriage
  2. Finances: Bank accounts and balances, superannuation, loans, credit cards, etc.
  3. Property: Residence and mortgage, investment property and loans, cars, boats, art, etc.
  4. Income: Employment and income of yourself and your separating partner
  5. Mediation: Have you already had mediation? Bring details, including documents arising from that.
  6. Timeline: Date of living together /marriage, significant changes of employment, purchase and sale of property, date of separation.

These facts provide a basis from which to start. You know your own circumstances in detail, now you need to bring us up to speed in a clear and ordered manner. 

A word of caution …

You may be thinking that since you don’t have all of this information to hand, you should delay your appointment until you do?

Absolutely not. Gather as much information as you can, but still, go ahead and make your appointment. The sooner we start working through this together, the better.

One more folder …

The last folder, and a very important one, is the one labelled ‘Questions’.

Find a quiet time and write down your questions for us. You may start the process by writing down ‘What am I worried about?’ or, ‘How does this work?’ Don’t feel that you need to avoid questions such as ‘What will this cost?’

The only silly question is the one that doesn’t get asked.

Likewise, don’t make the mistake of thinking that all of those questions in your head will magically spill out when required. They probably won’t. You will have a lot to absorb during our meeting, don’t rely on memory.

You may be feeling some reticence about revealing the intricacies of your life with a perfect stranger, but do remember, our relationship is confidential. Your life, and the detail of it, will be treated with the respect and dignity it deserves.

What to bring:

  • Facts and information
  • Documents
  • Timeline
  • Questions
  • Your ideas on the desired outcome, particularly with regard to parenting

And this too shall pass

We don’t wish to make light of these circumstances but do know, things will get better. Family Law … with understanding and dignity. It will be easier with sound legal advice from the experts.

Owen Hodge Lawyers. We are here to help.