Smart Start Appointment eGuide
Navigating a relationship breakdown is difficult and making sure you take all the right steps at the right time can seem impossible.
Our Mission is to secure the best future for every client and their family. We do this by:
- Providing clear and realistic advice.
- Providing direct access to a highly capable team.
- Delivering an exceptional and personalised service.
- Focusing on practical resolutions.
We want you to make the very best start in this process; to get ahead of important decisions early on, in the right frame of mind and armed with expert advice.
After years of working with people experiencing separation, we know how important it is to start the separation process in a strong, informed and clear-minded place – we call this making a Smart Start.
To make sure you make a Smart Start, we have developed our Smart Start Appointment – the clearest, fastest and smartest start to your separation journey.
Best wishes as you make your fresh start.
Smart Start Appointment
A Smart Start Appointment is:
- A one-on-one appointment with a Specialist Family Lawyer who is an expert in dealing with legal separation and has helped many people just like you,
- Where you will get on-the-spot specialist Family Law advice tailored to your circumstances,
- Completely confidential,
- 90-minute duration,
- Once-off Fixed Fee of $350, and
- No obligation.
Our Smart Start Appointment is a unique solution developed after more than a decade of helping people find clarity and direction in relation to the breakdown of an important relationship. We understand that this significant life transition, and its possible consequences, are stressful and the need to make important decisions during this time can be overwhelming.
Our Smart Start Appointment is guaranteed to help you to lose the stress, gain confidence and give you direction as it:
- Gives you access to a one-on-one confidential appointment with a Specialist Family Lawyer,
- Is an affordable and accessible solution offering great value at a reasonable fixed price,
- Gives you on-the-spot legal advice tailored to your situation,
- Allows you to address the issues that are concerning you right now,
- Brings to your attention other issues that you may not have thought about,
- Sets out a list of Next Steps for you to take so you leave the appointment with a plan,
- Informs you about how to proceed with our firm if you wish to, and
- Gives you an understanding of how we charge and the costs likely to arise for you.
Booking a Smart Start Appointment
You can arrange a Smart Start Appointment for yourself, or someone else, by:
- Calling our office on 1300 760 773,
- Making an online request for a Smart Start Appointment
- Emailing our office at [email protected].
Once you have contacted us, you will speak to our Client Services Officer who will talk to you about:
- Your current situation and how we can help,
- The Specialist Family Lawyers who are available to meet with you and who might best suit your case (unless you would like to request a specific Family Lawyer),
- The times and dates available for your Smart Start Appointment and what is suitable to you,
- Whether you would like to meet your Specialist Family Lawyer in person (in one of our office conference rooms) or via video or teleconference,
- The Smart Start Appointment fixed fee price,
- How to pay the Smart Start Appointment fee,
- Any concerns you may have about the Smart Start Appointment or about your circumstances generally,
- How to find our office and parking options (if you are attending your Smart Start Appointment in-office), and
- The name of your former partner, so that we can make sure that we have not acted for them in the past and to ensure we do not take their enquiry if they call us.
If you would like to proceed with making a Smart Start Appointment, our Client Services Officer will:
- Take pre-payment of the $350 Smart Start Appointment fee,
- Confirm the date, time and location of your Smart Start Appointment,
- Confirm the name of your Specialist Family Lawyer and some information about them, and
- Send you an email to confirm the details for your Smart Start Appointment, including details about the location of our office and nearby parking.
Your Smart Start Appointment will be provided by one of our Specialist Family Lawyers who has been selected as the most suitable for you, your circumstances and your particular legal situation. You are also welcome to select one of our Specialist Family Lawyers that you would like to assist you.
Your Specialist Family Lawyer will be informed about your circumstances before they meet with you and will have an understanding about what you wish to discuss. They are lawyers who have been drawn to specialise in the area of Family Law because of their empathy and desire to help others. From the second they meet you, they will be attuned to your situation, your needs and concerns.
Not only are our Specialist Family Lawyers experts in their field, but they also have had ongoing training and development in how to make your Smart Start Appointment the most helpful to you that it can be.
Our Specialist Family Lawyers can connect you with other professionals, such as financial planners, psychologists, accountants, recruiters, real estate agents, mortgage brokers and more, so that you have access to a comprehensive range of professionals to assist you following separation.
All of our Specialist Family Lawyers:
- Are dedicated to practising only in Family Law,
- Are specialists in Family Law,
- Complete ongoing education and training in Family Law,
- Regularly contribute Family Law material to online and print publications, and
- Are highly skilled at identifying and assisting clients who are experiencing family violence, a controlling partner, powerlessness, stress and fear.
Prior to your Smart Start Appointment
Our Lawyers are experts in asking the right questions to get the information they need to properly advise you. All your Specialist Family Lawyer will really need is to hear you tell your story.
However, bringing some additional paperwork can be helpful and can assist to prompt your memory. If you have time to gather some papers, the documents that will most help your Specialist Family Lawyer are:
- Any paperwork you have received from your ex or their Lawyer,
- Any legal paperwork about your relationship such as a pre-nuptial agreement or Court Orders,
- Details of the assets, debts and superannuation you and your ex had when you started your relationship,
- Details of the assets, debts and superannuation you and your ex have now,
- Details of any lump sum amounts received by you or your ex during the relationship and/or since separation such as gifts or financial assistance from parents, inheritances, redundancies, workers’ compensation payments, lottery winnings or similar, and
- Details of current income for you and your ex.
Before your appointment, our staff will ask you to complete our Client Intake Form with the essential information that your Specialist Family Lawyer needs before starting your Smart Start Appointment.
Your Smart Start Appointment
Getting Set up
To make the most of your Smart Start Appointment, you should make sure you have set aside at least 90 minutes including that you have had something to eat, been to the bathroom and have adequate parking.
Your Smart Start Appointment will be in a comfortable and private location. You are welcome to ask our Reception staff for refreshments at any time.
Your Specialist Family Lawyer will meet you in Reception and guide you to a conference room. Please let your Specialist Family Lawyer know if you are hot/cold or need anything for your comfort.
Starting the Appointment
Once you sit down, the first thing your Specialist Family Lawyer will do is to ask you to tell your story; to explain what is going on and what is worrying you. They will ask you about what is important to you and what you want to achieve because of your separation. This part usually takes about 30 minutes or more. As you speak, your Specialist Family Lawyer will get a sense of who you are, your values and concerns.
Your Specialist Family Lawyer will ask you some questions to make sure they get any further detail they need.
Once you have finished explaining your situation and your Specialist Family Lawyer has all the information they need, they will advise you about your situation including:
- What you are legally entitled to in terms of Property Division, parenting arrangements, Spousal Maintenance and Child Support. For example, your Specialist Family Lawyer may advise you “Based on what you have told me today, I think you would be entitled to approximately 55% of the total property pool”, or “Given the parenting arrangements to date, I consider that the children are most likely to continue living with you, with some weekend time with the other parent” or “As you are not able to earn an adequate income, I consider you are entitled to claim Spousal Maintenance from your ex of about $500 per week.” However, where there is limited information for them to draw a conclusion, they may not be able to be so specific with their advice until they receive the further information.
- How they have reached this conclusion including how a Court would decide your situation based on the current law.
- Answer specific questions that you have such as “Will I be able to keep the house?”, “Can I relocate to another city?” or “Do I have to go to Court?” or “How much is this process going to cost?’
- Advise you about other related issues that you may not have considered such as, the need to update your Will and other related documents, protecting your privacy, personal safety and finances, what is likely to happen if you do nothing, how time limits apply for property related issues.
- Explain to you how the Family Law process works, including:
- Negotiations will usually be used to start the process.
- You might need to attend a Mediation with your ex (we can be there to represent you) for face-to-face negotiations.
- Court is a last resort but can be very helpful to get your ex to be involved in the process, to get financial information from them or to get funding for Spousal Maintenance or legal fees early in the process.
- When agreement is reached, we can prepare all the necessary documents for the Court to make Orders in the terms of the agreement, to finalise the process.
- Explain to you the next steps in the process such as: tasks that you can do yourself to save on legal costs that we can guide you with during the Smart Start Appointment, steps that you need to take to protect yourself from exploitation by your ex, further information that we will need from you, what to do next if you want to proceed with us as your Family Lawyers.
- Explain to you how we charge and the legal fees that you are likely to incur if you decide to proceed with us.
- Ask you whether you would like to get started with us, or whether you would like more time to think about it.
Throughout your Smart Start Appointment, your Specialist Family Lawyer will be more than happy to answer any questions you have as you think of them.
At the end of your Smart Start Appointment, your Specialist Family Lawyer will provide you with a take-home folder which includes:
- Your Specialist Family Lawyer’s business card,
- Information about our Solicitor’s Trust Account,
- Our Estate Planning Fixed Fee Schedule,
- Our Divorce Fixed Fee Schedule,
- Information about financiers that can fund your legal proceedings, and
- General information about Divorce and separation.
Shortly after your Smart Start Appointment, your Specialist Family Lawyer will email you to touch base. You are welcome to respond to their email with any questions you have about your Smart Start Appointment.
If you choose to go ahead with us, we will send you an Engagement Letter attaching a Legal Services Agreement which sets out the work you have instructed us to perform, how we will charge for this work and an estimate of the costs we consider you are likely to incur for the performance of the work. Our Legal Services Agreement will also specify the amount of the deposit we require that you make to our Trust Account before we can start work.
You are welcome to ask any questions about our Legal Services Agreement and are happy to discuss its terms with you. If you agree with the terms of the Legal Services Agreement, you can e-sign the document and the document will be automatically returned to us.
Once we have received your signed Legal Services Agreement and the payment of your deposit, work is started on your file and your Specialist Family Lawyer or their Paralegal will contact you to touch base.
The most common feedback we receive from clients after attending a Smart Start
Appointment is that they feel a huge sense of relief to have been thoroughly informed about their legal position and to know the next steps to take. We feel confident that you will feel the same way.