People often think that taking legal advice is quite formal or intimidating – but that does not need to be the case. More often than not, the first step is to gather information on your situation so that you can assess your options. For instance, if you are in the early stages of separation, then it’s generally best to get some advice on your rights and entitlements before taking steps to try and resolve things yourself.
At Morrison Kent, we have an ‘initial consultation’ process, which is a no-obligation first meeting for a fixed fee, so you know the cost upfront. This article outlines what is involved in an initial consultation and how we are continuing to hold them during the COVID-19 level 4 lockdown successfully.
When to have an Initial Consultation
Initial consultations are beneficial for people in the early stages of a legal issue, who need some advice and guidance on where they stand.
Below are some common situations where people find an initial consultation useful:
- In the early stages of a separation – where we can discuss their rights and entitlements, as well as what the separation process involves and their options;
- Considering a Contracting Out Agreement (or prenup) – to gain an understanding of what the relationship property laws are, and discuss the process for negotiating their own rules about how property might be divided if their relationship ends;
- Involved in a parenting dispute – where people may be having trouble agreeing on appropriate care and custody arrangements, or important matters for their child such as which school they should attend;
- Having been served with Family Court documents (such as protection order or family violence proceedings) – to take some advice on how to respond and understand what the law provides;
- Being left out of a Will – to understand the options around challenging a Will or estate;
- Going through the surrogacy process – to get an understanding of what this means legally, and what the surrogacy and adoption process involves (this is also a mandatory step if you get further down this track);
- Dealing with a family member or close friend who has become incapacitated – to discuss how to obtain orders from the Family Court allowing them to make decisions for the person (if they do not have enduring powers of attorney).
Taking early legal advice is key so that you are better placed to make informed decisions, and also aware of any particular timeframes that may apply to your situation.
What to Expect
An initial consultation is a fixed-fee meeting with one of our family law experts, which usually lasts around an hour. It gives you an opportunity to explain your situation in detail, get some advice on the legal issues and understand more about the process or potential outcomes.
It is an informal and relaxed meeting, which we often find leaves people feeling much more at ease about the situation they’re facing.
What to Prepare
It is best to be as prepared as possible, to make the best use of your time with us. Depending on your circumstances (which we can discuss in a provisional telephone conversation), we will generally ask that you provide us with any relevant information or documents that you may have. We are also obligated to collect some personal identification for new clients, which you will need to bring along to your initial consultation.
How can we do this over Lockdown?
We are continuing to successfully hold initial consultations with people via AVL (such as Skype, Zoom or Facetime) or telephone over the lockdown period. Our team have lots of experience doing so, as this is how we usually meet with clients who live in different parts of New Zealand or overseas.
How to Get Started
Feel free to contact one of our family lawyers to discuss your situation and book an initial consultation:
Not sure what kind of assistance you need? We have a range of practical resources on our website to help point you in the right direction.
Our people are continuing to work from home and are available by phone, email, text, facetime, zoom, whatever way we can be to support you. We are well resourced and remain committed to providing cost-effective and creative solutions for you.