One of our customers contacted us this week, enquiring as to whether his long-term local lawyer, who had acted on behalf of himself and his wife for many years, could prepare and finalise his Financial Agreement.
The difficulty with appointing your family’s long-standing lawyer to finalise your agreement is that the same lawyer cannot act for both yourself and your partner. Both parties need to be represented by a separate and fully independent solicitor.
So naturally the question arises: will the lawyer who has acted for your family’s legal matters in the past, act for you or your partner in your property settlement proceedings?
And how will your partner feel if they are in the position of having to find a new lawyer if your family’s long-standing lawyer represents you and not your partner?
Is this a situation that you would both feel comfortable about?
Avoiding a conflict of interest – engaging an independent lawyer
The family law is very specific about what needs to happen if you want your financial agreement to be legally binding and effectively oust the jurisdiction of the courts (as opposed to an informal agreement): Both parties must get independent legal advice before signing the Agreement. This requirement is set out in section 90G of the Family Law Act for financial agreements made by married couples or the corresponding section 90UJ for agreements by de facto couples.
During this critical time, important short term and long term decisions are made, some of the implications of which may not be fully understood.
There are enormous benefits to having a separate and independent family lawyer:-
• Your lawyer will be acting in your best interests (and not your partners’) and you will be receiving advice tailored specifically to your individual needs and situation;
• It will help to uncover any duress, unfair pressure or threats you may be experiencing to induce you to enter into the agreement;
• It will help you to understand fully the implications of what you are signing before you commit yourself to the agreement;
• It will help prevent either party from arguing that they did not understand what they were signing as a means of backing out on the agreement;
• Complies with the legal requirements of the Family Law Act.
The lawyers may be asked to withdraw
You also need to consider what will happen the family lawyer is asked to withdraw by your partners lawyer due to a conflict of interest. You may spend considerable time and money working with your family lawyer, only to find that you have to start over from scratch with someone else.
In reality a lawyer well versed in Family Law is familiar with all of these issues and should bring them to your attention during preliminary consultations.
Is your local GP lawyer the best choice for family matters?
Many local general practitioner lawyers, while experienced in conveyancing, property and real estate transactions, may not be as well versed in family law. As such, your GP lawyer may not be the best choice to help you through this crucial period.
Seeking the services of a solicitor with experience in family law and who is truly independent of the other party may just be the best option.
Team up with one of our independent lawyers
This is where our document review service comes in useful to our customers – we team you and your partner up with separate and fully independent lawyers as part of our document review service, to help you finalise your financial agreement.
By teaming you up with a separate and independent lawyer, you can comply with the Family Law Act requirement for separate and independent legal advice, at the low fixed fee we have negotiated on behalf of our customers.
How does it work?
Our lawyers operate from separate and independent firms around Australia and can consult with you remotely by telephone consultation, Skype and email, or in a traditional face-to-face setting (if available in your area) in order to deliver the required advice to you.
Minimum cost but maximum benefits
Our lawyers work with our financial agreement extensively and as such, are able to offer us a great fixed price that corresponds to the nature and popularity of the service.
Our service means that you can obtain your independent legal advice easily, efficiently, conveniently and cost effectively.
- Convenient service delivered to your home or office (or if geographical location permits, you can attend the lawyers office for a traditional face-to-face meeting);
- Cost effective fixed fee service;
- Time effective and efficient completion;
- Completely independent lawyers that can be allocated to both yourself and the other party;
- Complies with the provisions of the Family Law Act.