A R Walmsley Solicitors Sydney



Rachelle rang a Lawyer in a distressed state, "I need an appointment to talk about a divorce".

If this enquiry is taken literally, the client and the Lawyer could move down the wrong path. "Is it really advice about a divorce that you are seeking?" The office staff at the firm Rachelle has contacted are trained to assist people making enquiries about marriage breakdowns. "My marriage has broken down. I don't know what to do!" Rachelle was deeply distressed.

An appointment was made and Rachelle realized that the firm she had chosen cared about her sense of helplessness. Rachelle was treated with dignity. She was not talked down to. She had a real sense that her advisors were helping her to gain clarification about moving forward and resolving some very important issues. What Rachelle came to realise very quickly was that she did not really need a divorce. In order to obtain the divorce there had to be an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and in order to prove that she and her husband had to live separate and apart for not less than 12 months. The marriage had broken down but Rachelle and her husband Richard had only lived separate and apart for 6 months.

What she really needed to talk about was financial security. "But I didn't think that I could even talk about a division of property until I had a divorce?" Rachelle shared a common belief. Her legal advisor was able to correct her thinking and tell her that an application in relation to property can be made at any time. Property negotiations and applications are not dependent upon getting a divorce. The only connection between a property settlement and a divorce is that if you file for a divorce you must make an application for a property settlement within 12 months of the time the divorce was granted. "You mean that I'm not just stuck in a financial vacuum?" Rachelle is not stuck. She can enter meaningful negotiations in relation to property right now. She can make an application to the Court in relation to property right now. She can make an application for spousal maintenance right now.

Rachelle had no intention of running off to Court, but the knowledge she now had in relation to the Family Law system empowered her and gave her confidence. She could now see a light at the end of the tunnel. She did not have to wait to get a divorce before she could start addressing her financial security. This was a tremendous relief to Rachelle. A general question about divorce is often not the essence of the problem. It is often the starting point for resolving a children's issue; a property issue; spousal maintenance or child support.

Your Lawyer needs to be able to interpret the real question that you are asking. She or he needs to give priority to the issues that are raised under the general enquiry of "divorce".

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