Family Law 101: What to do when you receive a letter from a family lawyer
Lawyer Letter

Most, if not all, family law cases start with a letter. And if you are on the receiving end of the letter, knowing what to do next is important. Regardless of whether the letter has come as a surprise or not, the most important thing to remember is to take action. In fact, ignoring the letter and hoping it will go away is one of the biggest mistakes made in family law cases. In this Family Law 101, Freeman Family Law walks you through the basics of what your letter means and what to do next.

The family lawyer letter

Whilst the two parties concerned may be living separately, one party will usually instigate the formal separation of the parties by engaging a family lawyer and instructing them to issue a letter to the other party about finalising the separation or divorce. If you’ve received such a letter, whether you expected it or not, this tells you one very important thing: the other party has incurred costs to send this letter. That means they are serious about proceeding. With reference to divorce/separation cases, the letter itself will usually contain things like:

  • Date of marriage
  • Date of separation
  • A proposed settlement or an exchange of information (financial)
  • A deadline for response
  • A typical deadline for response is two weeks

Once a party has received such a letter, their options are relatively simple. They can:

  • Ignore it
  • Respond without representation
  • Seek legal advice from a specialist family lawyer

Let’s assess the options…

Ignoring your letter

Often, we hear from clients who initially ignore their letters because they don’t think their former partner is serious. They might be trying to “call their bluff”. However, as noted before, if the other party has gone to the effort and expense to engage a family lawyer to send the letter, chances are they will be proceeding with or without you. And they will be able to proceed without the participation of the other party because their failure to respond or engage will essentially tell them to issue proceedings. In plain English, this means that ignoring your letter means you’re probably going to court.

Responding on your own (without legal representation)

Of course, you can try and respond to the letter on your own without any legal representation. However, without an intimate understanding of family law, this can often lead to a much lengthier process and a much poorer outcome. If this is something you would like to do, it is highly recommended that you at least meet with a family lawyer to get an understanding for the facts of your case and some guidance on how to best handle the matter.

Seeking legal advice and/or representation from an expert family lawyer

Often, many hesitate to engage a family lawyer because of the fear of expense or because they think they can handle the settlement and relevant negotiations on their own. However, engaging a qualified legal representative for your family law matter may actually ensure you save money in the long run. That’s because an experienced and knowledgable family lawyer will be able to:

  • Provide you with a clear understanding of the process ahead
  • Help you understand what you are legally entitled to in any settlement
  • Expertly guide you through negotiations to an appropriate settlement

Why are these good for you and how can it save you money? Put simply, it gives you the best possible chance to secure the best possible outcome in the shortest possible time.

Trusting Freeman Family Law with your family law case

Freeman Family Law has the expertise and experience you want on your side. Our principal, Graeme Freeman, brings over 30 years of experience to the table on his own. As an accredited specialist, his three-decades-plus of experience as an accredited specialist in family law means he has been before the court 1000s of times, meaning he understands how the system works, what an optimal result looks like depending on the facts of the case and how to achieve it.

We pride ourselves on listening and caring for our clients’ needs, but also ensuring we give them a realistic outlook of the road ahead. The incredible in-house experience we have access to at Freeman Family Law truly means our clients can trust in the advice and guidance tailored to their specific circumstances.

Nervous about making the first appointment? We’ve prepared a handy checklist you can use to consider some of the topics that may be up for discussion and how to prepare for your first consultation.

What to do next?

If you’ve received a letter from a family lawyer and looking for expert advice, get in touch with Freeman Family Law today. Fill out the form on our Contact Us page, or pick up the phone and give us a call on 03 9326 4433.

Freeman Family Law has been assisting clients for over 30 years on matters involving divorce or separation, complex financial and property issues, as well as advice on parenting and wills & estates. Book an appointment with an Accredited Family Law Specialist online or at one of our offices in Yarraville, South Melbourne, Caroline Springs, Essendon or Mornington.

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