For many clients, taking the first step of reaching out to a Family Lawyer is a big decision. The initial consultation provides an opportunity for you to explore your objectives and needs, obtain preliminary advice and establish a rapport with your lawyer.

Within this article, our lawyers provide an overview of what you can expect at your initial consultation and provide expert tips for helping you get the most from it.

Flexibility – Your Initial Consultation with a Family Lawyer

When reaching out to a law firm to obtain advice on your family law problem, you will be asked for details about the nature of your matter before the first meeting is booked. We ask if you have a preference for a face-to-face meeting, a videoconference or a phone conference.

Keep the following in mind:

  • If practicable, a face-to-face conference is generally more favourable in terms of establishing a rapport with your lawyer.
  • You may ask a friend or sibling to attend the conference with you.
  • It is normal to feel a level of stress or uncertainty before the first meeting – bring a list of questions with you or forward them to your lawyer beforehand.

What to Bring to your Initial Consultation?

Before your consultation, it is desirable to prepare a short 2–3-page summary of your circumstances as well as complete any questionnaires requested by your lawyer (with as much detail as possible.) You can also provide any relevant documents that provide information about important issues.

Depending on the nature of your matter, this may include:

  1. A summary of your circumstances and family members (ie. Spouse, partner, children, living arrangements);
  2. A summary of the history of your marriage or relationship including key dates (a chronology is a good way to do this);
  3. A list of your and your partner’s assets, liabilities and financial resources;
  4. A summary of each partner’s contributions across the relationship (financial and non-financial);
  5. Any court orders, parenting plans, ADVO’s or other agreements; and
  6. Any emails or letters that you have received from your spouse or other party, or any correspondence from their lawyer.

Aim to provide as much of the above information as you can. The more information you provide, the greater the detail of our advice at the initial consultation.

If possible, forward the above documents to your lawyer before your consultation, to enable them to familiarise themselves with your circumstances before your meeting.

Understand the Role of your Lawyer

It is essential that you understand that the role of your lawyer is to provide you with legal advice and options. They cannot provide financial advice or counselling services. Your lawyer can put you in touch with people who can provide allied services.

Legal Professional Privilege

Legal professional privilege applies to confidential communications with your lawyer that are for the purposes of obtaining legal advice. This means that whilst you may feel vulnerable or nervous about sharing details of your personal life, lawyers and their staff are duty-bound to keep this information confidential.

How Does Costing Work for an Initial Consultation with a Family Lawyer?

Your lawyer will give you a costs estimate before the initial consultation. You may ask questions about legal costs at any time.


Your lawyer may give you some resources to read before your initial consultation. If so, try and do any recommended reading before the meeting.

Extra Tips

  • If you are attending an in-person consultation, familiarise yourself with the office location and arrive 10 minutes early.
  • If your lawyer requests further documents or information before the first meeting, be prompt in providing these as soon as practicable.

Remember to bring along your pre-written list of questions so that you don’t forget to cover everything on your mind.


Ramsden Family Lawyers practises in all areas of family and relationship law under the Family Law Act. Our family law specialists also have extensive experience in adoption, surrogacy, pet custody, Wills and Estates and international family law matters. Our dedicated team is therefore highly equipped to assist you in navigating your family law matter and challenges that this may bring. If you would like to discuss your family law matter with one of our family lawyers, please do not hesitate to contact us. We offer a free 30-minute initial consultation to provide an opportunity to meet with one of our friendly family law specialists before engaging us as your lawyers.