If you have separated (or you are thinking about separating), and plan on getting at least some basic advice from a lawyer about dividing your assets, there are ways you can keep your legal fees down and fast-track getting started.
- Write a list of all of the assets, liabilities, superannuation, business interests and trusts that you and your partner have, whether you own them together, in separate names or in someone else’s name for you.
- Provide your best estimated value for each item in your list.
- Send your lawyer a chronology (i.e. a timeline) of the relationship and the family’s finances. Include crucial dates and events, such as:
- when you were married/separated
- children’s dates of birth
- periods of parental leave
- what each of you owned when you began living together
- employment/income histories (what each of you earn/ed)
- details of any inheritances, significant gifts, wins, and lump sum payments received
- Provide a brief summary of your future plans, such as what you intend to do for employment/income, if you plan to re-train, the status of your health, expected arrangements for the children, the major expenses of the children and who is expected to pay them.
- Provide your lawyer with a list of your monthly living expenses and those of the children (i.e. a budget).
- When your lawyer asks you for your “disclosure documents” (see our blog post Disclosure: what, when and why), gather them all together and send them to your lawyer in one email or one bundle. Most documents can be obtained electronically and quickly; wait until you’ve got them all together. Don’t send them in dribs and drabs.
- Think about and be ready to articulate your goals, fears, priorities and questions. Know your “must haves” and your “negotiables”. Remember – no one can have everything; know where you are prepared to compromise. It can help to write these down and provide them to your lawyer before the first meeting.
If you’re thinking about getting started, or if you want to know where you stand, give us a call or send us an email today.