Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

1I am not yet separated but I am concerned and have questions about the future of my relationship.
A number of clients who see us for an initial consultation are not actually separated. They are concerned about the current status of their marriage or de facto relationship and are not sure what a separation would involve for them and their family. First and foremost, we encourage all clients in this situation to consider obtaining marriage counselling, as it is far cheaper and may give a better outcome than pursuing separation. Seeking the advice of a Family Law Specialist in this situation will provide you with a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities as well as the options you have available if you do proceed to separate. We can make sure you prepare yourself properly, and point out some potential conflict points that you may not have considered. You will leave the appointment with advice and insights specific to your background and future needs.
2I am already separated and think I have reached an informal agreement with my ex partner so I don’t need a family lawyer.
Family Law is complex and covers many areas including separation and divorce, property, asset protection, child support and parenting arrangements. Being on amicable terms with your ex partner is always a good scenario and reaching a mutual agreement is beneficial. However, seeing a Family Law Specialist before actioning an informal agreement is crucial. When it comes to Family Law there are specific rights and responsibilities you need to be aware of. Time limits also apply and your knowledge of these will help you understand your vulnerability to future claims. Seeking advice and formalising your agreement will help protect you from future claims and costly legal fees later on. By at least obtaining some advice, you know where you stand and can make an informed choice.
3How long does an Initial Consultation take, and how much does it cost?
Your initial consultation usually goes for one hour. Based on our discussions with you the first time you call us, we will help assess the right solicitor for you. Fees are disclosed in full by our team at the time you make your appointment, and will depend on the seniority of the solicitor giving you advice. Your appointment is charged at an hourly rate. If your appointment goes for less than one hour you will only be charged for the time you spend with us. Similarly, if your appointment goes for longer than one hour you will be charged for this additional time. Our Family Law Specialists always provide you with notice of when the one-hour time frame is approaching so you can make the decision regarding additional time. We understand that the first time you see us, you will likely have lots of questions – you should bring a list of questions with you so you have the maximum benefit of our advice. We are confident that you will find the initial consultation to be of great benefit to you – but if you don’t feel you’ve received any value from our meeting, we won’t charge you.
4I don’t want to put my children or myself through court.
Seeing a Family Law Specialist does not mean your matter will go to court. There are a variety of different ways we can help you reach a settlement without the need to involve a Court. We acknowledge that litigation means that you and your family will experience emotional and financial distress, and we hope to prevent that from happening to you. Family Law Matters have an enviable record in achieving sensible settlements for clients. We are proud that most of our matters settle before even reaching a courtroom, and our clients are satisfied that their agreement is reflective of our philosophy. If your preference is to reach a settlement by agreement rather than litigation, you should contact us to help you achieve this goal.
5I have a close family member/friend who had a terrible family law experience during their separation.
Family Law is highly specialised and is always changing. Your situation is unique to you and it is important to receive specific advice based on the particulars of your individual circumstances. Your experience with family law does not have to be a negative one. Seeking advice that is tailored to you and your family can help to avoid anxiety and uncertainty during an already challenging time. Understanding your rights, responsibilities and options will help you navigate the process towards a resolution so you can begin a new journey.
6Why should I choose Family Law Matters?
Our main driver is to keep you and your family out of court. We want to help minimise the conflict, and give you the chance to find a positive way to end your relationship.

Our mission is to help 8,849 families resolve their family law arrangements without needing Judge to make a decision. That means the family will have settled by reaching an agreement, which is a “good divorce”. It’s an ambitious goal – it’s climbing Mt Everest, which is 8,849 meters high – so for every family we help achieve a peaceful divorce, we “climb another meter up the mountain” towards our goal.

We have been helping families for more than 20 years, with a team that is dedicated to the exclusive practise of Family Law. We are absolute Family Law Nerds, and we’re proud of it.

Our Founding Solicitor, Antonella Sanderson, has experienced divorce from 3 aspects – as a child of divorced parents, through her own divorce being a single parent, and in her career as a divorce lawyer. This makes Antonella the “3D” lawyer, who understands the pain of separation from every angle. Antonella’s experience has guided her leadership of our team, and her own personal mission to change the face of Family Law – by training one new family lawyer at a time to show their clients they can experience a “good divorce”.

We are the Sutherland Shire’s only dedicated Family Law practise, our entire legal team are trained Collaborative Family Lawyers, and we are the only Sutherland Shire firm to be recommended by our peers in the 2023 Doyle’s Guide for Leading Family & Divorce Lawyers in Sydney.
7If I see a lawyer, will I have to have a lawyer represent me? I’m worried my spouse will become less cooperative if they know I have seen a lawyer.
We understand that seeing a lawyer is a private decision. We can help maintain your privacy if you are not comfortable sharing this information with your spouse just yet. We will never make contact with your spouse without your permission first.

Not everyone decides to pursue immediate action after our first meeting, and this is okay. In some cases, the advice we give may be all the help you need to negotiate your own separation settlement, and we can be your guide in the background.

In some situations, we can help prepare the paperwork you will need to make your settlement a binding agreement, and your spouse may not need a separate lawyer.

There are many flexible ways we can work with you – the important thing is that you have some good advice in your hands to make the best decisions, and to protect your future.