When separating, it is wise to seek legal advice so that you know what to expect when deciding issues such as arrangements for children, child support, spousal maintenance or property. You may need advice regarding whether you should apply in the Federal Magistrates Service or the Family Court for a particular matter.
You have a right to take your case to court by yourself. You should still get legal advice beforehand as you may be at a disadvantage if your spouse has a lawyer or the matter is particularly complex.
If you do have a lawyer, it is important that you can discuss your situation openly. When seeing a lawyer you should:
- Find out how much it will cost you.
- Ask about legal aid.
- Show your lawyer any important documents such as letters from your spouse’s lawyer or previous court orders.
- Be sure you do not sign anything or agree to anything which you do not understand.
- Ask your lawyer to explain all your options and the risks involved in any legal action.
- Keep a record of what is agreed to.
Your lawyer should not commit you to anything that you have not discussed or agreed to. If this happens, tell your lawyer immediately (even if you are in court) as it may be too late when the case is over. If you are not satisfied with your lawyer, you can change to another lawyer, however you should not do this without a good reason.
Once you have paid your lawyer for work already done they must give you all your papers. They have the right to withhold papers until paid in full.