Independent legal advice is when you and your spouse both engage separate lawyers. You might hire a lawyer to represent you in reaching an agreement or to fairness-check an agreement you’ve made together. Lawyers also help you formalise your agreement by drafting your paperwork and submitting documents to the Court on your behalf.
The amicability and complexity of your case are the two things that determine when you might engage a lawyer to assist you with your separation.
Why engage a Family Lawyer?
To reach agreement
This is when you and your ex-partner engage your own lawyers to negotiate an agreement on your behalf on your financial, property and parenting arrangements.
Independent legal advice to reach agreement may be suitable if you:
- aren’t able to communicate with each other
- can’t come to an agreement using other methods
- don’t trust each other to be honest
- have complex finances or parenting arrangements
- have a power imbalance or history of family violence in your relationship.
To fairness-check your agreement
We recommend you receive legal advice about the agreement you’ve made to check it’s fair for both parties. You should engage your own lawyers to consider the short and long-term outcomes of the agreement you’ve made and ensure it doesn’t put one party at a disadvantage.
It’s especially important to receive a fairness check if you have a parenting plan or a complex asset pool as part of your agreement. The Family Court may not accept orders if you haven’t received legal advice and your agreement isn’t considered fair.
To make your agreement legal
This is where your lawyer will draft legally-binding instruments to formalise your agreements.
Drafting legal documents is complex, especially if you are splitting property and superannuation. We recommend you engage a Family Lawyer to draft your orders and submit them to the Family Court on your behalf.
Does engaging a lawyer mean going to Court?
Not at all. Having a lawyer doesn’t have to mean inflaming tensions — the professionals in our Network are committed to de-escalation and Court as a last resort. If things have escalated, it’s still possible to turn your matter around with the right team.
Did you know that even in cases where a couple has commenced Court proceedings, only a small number ever appear before a Judge? The Court requires couples to attempt mediation before they can set a date, and 95% of all matters heading to Court wind up settling.
How much does it cost?
You can engage a lawyer for advice on your matter and pay them an agreed hourly rate.
The industry standard for a Family Lawyer in Australia averages $500 per hour. The cost will vary depending on the lawyer’s experience and whether you live regionally or in a large city.
A lawyer typically spends time creating a brief in your first paid meeting. They record details about you and your partner, your relationship history, any children, your living arrangements and finances. By completing our Q&A, you’ve done this work already.
When you book your lawyer through The Separation Guide, we send them your brief with the information you’ve already provided us. This can save you time and money.
Some lawyers work on retainer agreements where you pay them a lump sum for an agreed scope of work. This often means they advocate for you and respond to letters and emails on your behalf so you don’t need to be in direct contact with your spouse.
If your case escalates, the number of hours your lawyer spends and the scope of work will increase. Cases that head to Court can cost clients tens of thousands of dollars, plus the high emotional cost. This is why we’re committed to Court as a last resort.
Why book your lawyer from The Separation Guide Network?
All professionals in our Network have signed our Ethical Charter with a focus on Court as a last resort. Our Charter also covers avoiding escalation and cost transparency.
You can have confidence that the professionals you engage through us will strive to make your separation simpler, more manageable and less stressful.
We’ll recommend two lawyers from our Network in your region when you complete our 3-minute Q&A. Your first consultation with a lawyer is free.
Would you like to talk about Independent Legal Advice?
Book a 15-minute chat with a Separation Consultant to talk through your situation.