What to expect from your first appointment?

At the first appointment, the lawyer will want to figure out the range of issues involved, what information is missing, where things are up to, and what you want to achieve. Sometimes, the lawyer can only give you general advice until they get more information.

Usually, the lawyer will outline your options for moving forward.

These options might be:

  • to take no legal action
  • to go through a mediation service to reach agreement with the other side
  • to write a letter asking for more information
  • giving you the tools to resolve the issue yourself
  • making an urgent court application

If you don’t understand what the lawyer is saying, ask them to explain. Legal issues can be really complicated so don’t be afraid of asking questions. It is important you understand the advice and know your next step.


  • Remember your appointment and the information you share with your lawyer is protected by legal professional privilege. This means the information you share with your lawyer is confidential (unless someone is at imminent risk of being seriously hurt).
  • Lawyers are not mandatory reporters.
  • If you are open and honest with your lawyer, they will be able to give you accurate and relevant legal advice. If you have any drug or alcohol issues, criminal charges or CYPS has been involved with your children and you tell your lawyer the full details, this helps inform their strategy to getting the outcome you want. If you are seeing a lawyer at the Centre and you talk to us about these issues we can also link you in with a social worker or Aboriginal case worker.

What to bring

It is helpful to bring relevant documents to your first appointment.

If your matter is already in a court, tribunal or commission, bring all relevant court documents or documents that have been filed and copies of all orders or decisions made.

If there are a lot of documents, make sure they are complete copies, in date order and can easily be identified if you can. This will save the lawyer time and save you money.

The list below provides some examples of documents you could bring to your appointment, depending on your legal problem. If you don’t have copies of these documents, don’t worry. Your lawyer will work through what you need and how you can get it.

Child arrangements

  • Any existing court orders, court documents, parenting plans, any correspondence from CYPS/Care and Protection
  • Any court applications and affidavits

Dividing property

  • A list of your assets and liabilities
  • Any market appraisals for real estate
  • Your last 3 payslips
  • Bank statements for the last 12 months
  • Your last 3 tax returns
  • Your last 3 ATO notices of assessment
  • Your most recent superannuation member statement
  • Copies of your partners financial documents (as listed above) if you have them
  • Any court applications and affidavits

Child Support

  • The most recent child support assessment
  • Any correspondence from the Child Support Registrar

Family violence

  • Any existing Family Violence Orders and Applications


  • Marriage Certificate and a translation of Marriage Certificate if not in English
  • Proof of residency if not born in Australia e.g. Current visa or citizenship certificate


  • Your work contract
  • Any key correspondence or letters from your employees
  • Any commission or court applications


  • Any relevant documents