Preparing for your first online family law consultation

How to prepare for your first online family law consultation
8-04-2020

The breakdown of a relationship is never easy and in the midst of a global pandemic, it may feel near impossible. 

As we adapt to the changes to our daily lives caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, many people considering separation may be looking to weather the ‘COVID-19 storm’ before taking decisive action and engaging a family lawyer. 

However, with delays in the courts where only ‘urgent’ matters are being heard, every day lost with the intention of starting the process at some point in the future could result in months of further delays.

How to get started

If you are considering separation you can contact Freeman Family Law to discuss the challenges you are facing and to make an obligation-free appointment with one of our experienced family lawyers. 

The team has been set up to work remotely and continues to consult with clients via Zoom and other online platforms.

Your first appointment is charged at a fixed-rate. 

While most initial appointments take about an hour, if your matter is more complex and requires a longer consultation, the fee will remain the same. 

Complete the checklist 

To get the most out of your initial consultation and to enable your solicitor to have all the relevant facts and information at hand, we recommend you consult the Freeman Family Law First Meeting Checklist (available HERE).

The checklist will provide you with a handy list of documents and information to prepare for your first meeting. It is divided into sections for financial matters and children’s matters. 

It is unlikely that all the documents and information listed in the checklist will be relevant to your matter, as each family law matter like each family is different.

It does, however, provide a good guide for you in understanding what information might be useful for your family lawyer. 

While we encourage clients to prepare, we understand that sometimes appointments are made last minute, or that a client may have moved out of the marital home leaving their paperwork behind. 

If you do not have access to all the relevant documents, please do not worry. Your solicitor will still be able to advise you at the first appointment, and may also be able to provide legal or practical solutions to obtain the necessary documents or information. 

Whilst this checklist is a great starting point, there are some extra things you might want to consider before your first online consultation (or any online consultation, for that matter), with face-to-face meetings in our office temporarily unavailable.

Prepare your questions

Before your meeting, it’s best to take a moment to think about the questions you are looking to have answered and make note of them.

Writing questions down on your phone’s notepad or in a draft email from a private account is a good way to keep these questions secure and to ensure you don’t forget to ask any of them in your meeting.

You can even email those questions to your solicitor beforehand to ensure you are both on the same page. This will allow them to ensure your most immediate concerns are addressed.  

Environment

At the Freeman Family Law offices, we are able to provide a calm, private, and safe environment for our clients to discuss their legal matters, while also accommodating any support people they would like to have in the room.

This can be more of a challenge when it comes to online consultations, which are likely to be taking place in the client’s home. 

When booking in your first online consultation be sure that it is at a time where you will have the privacy you need to discuss the issues at hand.

You will want to consider the physical environment you will be in when the online consultation takes place.

Will the children or your partner be able to hear you?

Do you have headphones to ensure no one can listen in on the conversation you are having?

Are you going to be comfortable discussing potentially deeply personal issues in this space?

Will your screen be visible?

If clients are distracted or uncomfortable they may unintentionally leave out critical details or have difficulty taking in the advice given to them by their solicitor. 

Where you feel most comfortable depends on your home environment, but many clients have chosen their office, bedroom, or even their car! 

If you do not have an appropriate space available to you, check in with Freeman Family Law to see if an alternative solution can be arranged.

Support

If there is someone you would like to be present at your meeting, let Freeman Family Law know BEFORE the meeting.

This way we can arrange for them to be provided with their own link to the online consultation.

Of course, if there is someone you’d like to attend, you should ensure you have spoken to them beforehand and made sure that they are comfortable attending, and that they will have similar access to an environment where they feel comfortable to participate.

Before you invite a support person, consider whether you are fully comfortable sharing potentially deeply personal information in front of that person. 

Seek clarification

Freeman Family Law’s expert solicitors take great pride in providing clear and concise advice, even in the most complex of matters, however, we always encourage our clients to seek further understanding on any matter they are not completely clear on. 

We always encourage our clients to take notes if they so wish and to ask questions. 

For most clients, the family law process is entirely new and often complex.

We want our clients to leave every appointment feeling confident that they know what the next step in their matter is. 

Next Steps

If you are ready to take the first steps in having your concerns heard, you can head to the Contact Us page, or call the office on 03 9326 4433 to discuss your family law matter.

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