There are three big myths that your typical, traditional family lawyer will tell you.
- Firstly, you need a lawyer; you can’t go through the legal separation process without one.
- Secondly, divorce and the legal separation process is expensive.
- Thirdly, you and your separating partner can’t engage the same lawyer because it’s a conflict.
For the run of the mill, straightforward legal separations or divorce, you can separate without a lawyer. Our Courts are moving (albeit slowly) towards making the legal process to formalise after separation agreements about children and finances, child support and divorce, easier so that everyday Australians can do it themselves, without a lawyer.
Divorce and separation doesn’t have to be expensive (ie. legal fees). If you choose to engage a lawyer, firstly, you have a right to negotiate the terms of their fees (see the Costs Agreement that the lawyer will likely ask you to sign). Secondly, you’ve probably filled out some forms in your lifetime about your name, date of birth, contact details and the like. Believe it or not, lawyers charge for doing this! So why not ask to do it yourself? Ask the lawyer what work you can do to minimise your legal fees.
What’s trending now in other areas of law is what is called ‘limited scope retainers’. What this means is that lawyers identify the specific task or job that they will do for you, with the inclusions and exclusions. Take us for example; we will act for a separating couple jointly where we’re engaged to prepare draft documents to formalise a separating couple’s agreement. We don’t give legal advice to either person and we limit the work that we do to preparing the draft documents only. We therefore avoid a conflict of interest. We always encourage the couple to get legal advice from lawyers but the choice remains up to them.