Separation and divorce are unfortunate and significant life events that many people go through.

For people separating while there is the obvious grief, anger and pain over the loss of a relationship, these feelings are often compounded by fear of an uncertain future, financial concerns and child custody issues.

Even though we live in the information age where the internet readily provides answers at the touch of a search, the reality of the Family Law system in Australia is that the law is complex and nuanced, making it difficult to understand and even more difficult to interpret for lay people.

Many people dread the idea of dealing with lawyers and courts and harbour justified concerns as to the costs of navigating the system. Fortunately, good lawyers are out there you just need to know how to find them…and here’s how…

Finding a Family Lawyer

Most people experiencing separation will have never been in this situation before and don’t readily know which lawyer will be best for them.

Many people may ask a family member, friend or someone like an accountant or counsellor for a referral to a good family law solicitor. These days even more people will turn to the internet to find a lawyer…and discover page after page of solicitors advertising their services. So which solicitor is best for you?

If you are looking on the internet my advice is to browse the “about us” and “meet the team” pages common to most lawyers’ websites. In these pages you get to know a bit about the solicitor, and most importantly, their knowledge and experience in Family Law.

While it is the case that any solicitor admitted to the High Court can practice in the Family Law in Australia, unless your solicitor has extensive knowledge and experience in the field, it may end up costing you more in the long run in terms of delays and bad advice.

A good way to readily tell whether the solicitor you intend to retain has the right knowledge and experience, is to see if they have attained Queensland Law Society Specialist Accreditation in Family Law. This qualification can only be achieved after practicing predominately in the field for 5 years, and then undergoing rigorous assessment in the form of an exam and practical assessment administered by the Queensland Law Society. Each year the practitioner must obtain “reaccreditation” by completing continuing professional development requirements and maintaining a file load predominantly in Family Law.

Another good indication is the number of years’ experience and additional higher learning or qualifications the solicitor has. Experience not just with a variety of different matters and situations, but also with the Courts, Judges and other practitioners is invaluable in achieving a timely and accurate resolution.

The right Lawyer for you

You and your lawyer will be working together during your matter and thus having a good rapport is also extremely important.

You need to know your lawyer is not just working hard behind the scenes but that you are kept up to date and everything is explained to you so that you understand the law and process. You also need to trust the judgment, knowledge and experience of your lawyer because you will rely on what you lawyer is telling you to make important decisions for your case.

The first contact most client’s will have with their lawyer is via the initial attendance or first meeting. This is a very important meeting for a client because they will get a feel for how the lawyer communicates with them, and whether the lawyer appears to be across all aspects of their particular matter. Something I hear regularly from client’s after an initial attendance is “I feel much better now” or “I’m glad I came to see you”. I find this to be very rewarding as I know I’ve taken the first step towards helping someone out of a difficult situation.

Location of your lawyer

Apart from the initial meeting, with technology today it is possible to act for people almost anywhere. Hooper Family Lawyers have acted for people overseas and interstate regularly. My view is it is best if an initial attendance can be done face to face however we often do these meetings over the phone if a client requests it.

We have offices at Coolangatta and Victoria Point which means we act for people over a large geographical area servicing the Federal Circuit Court sitting at Lismore, Southport and Brisbane.

This means anyone from Northern NSW, to Robina, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach or Coomera can easily access our service via the Coolangatta office. In Brisbane the Victoria Point office can assist clients not just in the Redlands but from Carina and Camp Hill through to the Brisbane CBD.

If your matter is going to court and you need assistance, contact Hooper Family Lawyers at Victoria Point on (07) 3207 7663; or Hooper Family Lawyers Coolangatta on (07) 5599 3026.

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