What Should You Expect from Your First Meeting with a Family Lawyer?

Clients are often apprehensive about their first meeting with a family lawyer. Knowing what to expect can ease anxiety and coming prepared for some of the questions you’ll be asked can help make the most of your time.

While every meeting will be different, they often follow a general structure:

1. Fact Gathering Stage

Your lawyer will ask you what brings you in to see them. Every client’s situation is different and your lawyer is looking to get a handle on the details of yours so they can determine how the law impacts you and how they can help.

Once you’ve had a chance to tell your story, your lawyer will likely ask you some questions.

Questions you can expect at this stage:

  • Biographical information such as when you began living together, were married, decided the relationship was over and the ages of any children.
  • The nature of your work and your partner’s (if any) and each of your incomes. If you have pay stubs, Income Tax Returns and/or Notices of Assessment available, bring them with you.
  • The nature and value of the assets and debts you and your partner had on the date of marriage (if applicable) and the date of separation.
  • Details of who did what during the relationship, including caring for children and domestic work. Your lawyer may ask you specific questions about the roles you and your partner played at home and in your careers and about any decisions you made as a family regarding careers and raising children.

2. Information and Education Stage

Once your lawyer has gathered enough information, they will then discuss with you how the law relates to your circumstances. Depending on your situation, they may explain how property division, parenting, child support and/or spousal support are determined in Ontario.

3. Resolution Options Stage

At this point, your lawyer may discuss with you the various options to resolving your situation and explain methods such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration, court or collaborative law. They will discuss with you the pros and cons of the various options and may offer advice as to which method may best meet your needs.

4. Next Steps

At this point, your lawyer will discuss next steps, usually including documents or information he or she needs for you and you with together decide what further steps they will take on your matter. You may also discuss fees, communication and what you can each expect from one another.

This is a good opportunity to ask any outstanding questions you may have and make sure you are clear on everything that has been discussed before the meeting ends.

Meeting with a family lawyer can go a long way towards easing stress and helping you decide how to move forward, regardless of the nature of your family issue. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 416­-863-0125 or send us an email to schedule a consultation.

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