What documents should I be prepared to bring to my family lawyer?

A pile of documents about a family law dispute placed on a table in a lawyer's offce

If you’ve made the decision to get in touch with a family lawyer for a consultation, it may initially be intimidating to try to prepare for the appointment. Chances are you’re experiencing some emotional stress and the task of organising and preparing all the necessary documents won’t help to reduce that stress.

Fortunately, we’ve prepared a quick rundown of the different documents you will want to have with you when you first meet with a family lawyer so that they have as much information as possible and can fully understand your situation:

Background Information

Basic Contact Information: Come prepared with your basic information such as full name (including maiden name, if applicable), birth date, address, occupation and annual income.

Details of Relationship: Give your family lawyer some background on the relationship, including the date of marriage or when you started living together, and the date of separation (if applicable). Letting your family lawyer know the chief reasons for your decision to get a divorce or separation is also important during this stage. This would also be an opportunity to mention if either you or your spouse has been in any previous marriages.

Children: Bring information about any children who would be affected by the breakup, including any agreements that have been prearranged involving child custody or support.

Financial and Legal Documents

Account Details: Give your family lawyer a rundown of your full financial details. Hiding or exaggerating financial information can have severe repercussions on your case. You’ll want to bring a balance of your personal and shared financial accounts, credit cards, savings accounts, and investment and retirement savings accounts (including your recent pension statements if applicable) for the date of marriage and the date of separation where possible.

Debts & Mortgages: An important part of the separation process is dividing up existing debts. Bring all the information you have on personal or shared debts and mortgages that will need to be addressed during the separation.

Property Information: Gather together valuations and information for any assets that you own either separately or together. Make sure that all assets are covered, including both local and foreign properties.

Legal Documents: Bring your marriage certificate, as well as, any other legal documents that may be relevant including any prenuptial agreements regarding the terms of the separation, child custody or spousal support. You should also bring any court orders, affidavits, applications or pleas that will be relevant to your case.

Concerns or Risks

Lastly, bring any information you have about any personal, health or financial concerns that need to be brought to light. If you are worried that your spouse might react violently towards you or your children, this is important to mention.