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When it's time to get a family lawyer
20 July 2020 | Views: 401
 
Disagreements and relationship niggles are all part of normal family life. We can't all get along, all the time. However, there may come a time when you realise that the arguments and familial issues you are facing, are of a much more serious nature and that intervention is, unfortunately, an unavoidable necessity. 

At such a difficult time, an experienced family law specialist can very well be your strongest ally and asset.

It is important though, that you first ask yourself if you do in fact, need an attorney. 

There are many advantages in obtaining the services of a family law attorney to assist you with your legal matter. It may not always be necessary though. The maintenance courts, domestic violence courts and children’s courts are all set up in such a way to make it possible for people to bring and oppose matters in those courts in-person themselves. This means it is entirely up to each individual to decide for themselves whether they want or have to appoint an attorney.

Should you decide to appoint an attorney, however, it is advisable that you do so as early on as possible to ensure that you are properly assisted, advised and guided from the very start of your matter.  

Once you have appointed an attorney, the next very important step is to get your documents together.

Every case is different and depending on the precise nature of your legal matter, your attorney will be able to advise you on what exactly is needed from you. As a general rule of thumb, try to take at least the following documents and information with you when consulting with your attorney for the first time: 

FOR DIVORCES: 

  • A copy of your marriage certificate. (If you don’t have it or it's in your spouse's possession, you can discuss this with your attorney first. Should your attorney confirm that you must have a divorce certificate, you can collect a new one from the Department of Home Affairs). Remember that after divorce, your marriage certificate will no longer be needed and for this reason, the original marriage certificate is contained in the court file when the divorce is finalised;
  • If married out of community of property, a copy of your antenuptial contract;
  • Copies of your minor children’s birth certificates; 
  • Your most recent payslip; 
  • A list of monthly expenses for yourself and your minor children (if applicable);
  • A list of all your assets (both movable and immovable) together with the value thereof, if possible;
  • A list of all your debts, together with the outstanding balances thereof.
FOR MAINTENANCE: 

  • A list of your monthly income and expenses;
  • Your payslip for the last three months; 
  • Copies of your bank statements for the last three months; 
  • A copy of your ID;
  • Copies of your minor children’s birth certificates;
  • A copy of your marriage certificate (if you are already divorced, a copy of the divorce order and deed of settlement, if there is one);
  • If an order was already made in the maintenance court, a copy of this order.
FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:

  • The general documentation required in terms of FICA legislation, including your ID document and proof of residence;
  • Any proof which you may have of the domestic violence such as photographs, messages, e-mails etc.
CHILDREN’S COURT MATTERS:

  • A copy of your ID;
  • The child concerned’s birth certificate;
  • Previous parenting plans, deeds of settlement or agreements of a similar nature; 
  • Any and all correspondence between you and the other parent or party including messages, e-mails and recordings.
In my next blog, I'll point out even more useful tips to get the most out of the legal assistance you've obtained.