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Looking for a good divorce lawyer

By Virgo1972 - 8 April 2011 23

I’m looking to my fellow Rioters for advice in finding a good divorce lawyer here in Canberra.

Can anyone recommend a lawyer who is particularly good? Are there any law firms I should avoid?  I’m also unsure about the costs associated with engaging a lawyer – does the cost equate to a better result? If so, should I be looking for a QC?

All recommendations or insights will be gratefully accepted and much appreciated.

Many thanks in advance.

What’s Your opinion?

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23 Responses to
Looking for a good divorce lawyer
dtc 9:25 am
08 Apr 11

A QC (or nowdays SC, senior counsel) is a barrister who appears in Court. They don’t deign to do the day to day documentation, filing, seeing clients etc stuff – that is done by a solicitor. However, if your case is particularly complicated and requires someone with a lot of experience, your solicitor might suggest briefing a QC for any hearing. So your first port of call will be a solicitor (who might have an ‘internal’ rank within his or her firm, depending on experience etc eg partner, senior associate). Dont call your solicitor ‘my QC’, its a rookie error!

A good lawyer (solicitor or barrister) can make a difference; but a bad lawyer can make an awful lot of difference. Price is not always an indicator of quality. More useful is experience and expertise – some lawyers do a bit of everything (often quite well, sometimes they are muddling along); others specialise. Some firms charge more than others because they can – its a market driven price.

There is at least one specialist family law firm in Canberra. They would be a good start.

Also – if things are agreed between you and your (soon to be ex) spouse, you can do a lot of the paperwork yourself. If there are fights, particularly over custody, you may find a lawyer worthwhile.

Costs will range for $5000 upwards. An awful lot upwards if you end up having a 4 day custody/property battle (think $40k or more). Remember that the more you can agree with your spouse, the less you fight over and the less you need to spend on lawyers. And, presumably, the better your relationship will be in the future.

Sleaz274 9:49 am
08 Apr 11


I think the point is they don’t have a relationship in the future…

Gezabel 10:10 am
08 Apr 11

Hi Virgo1972, sorry to hear about your pending divorce – it’s not a fun place to be.

As offered by dtc below, it really will depend on what you’re needing to settle with your former spouse. If you can keep things amicable and you can reach agreement on things, you may not need too much legal involvement. However, if there’s property and other assets involved, a lawyer can help in keeping some costs down (ie. avoiding stamp duty simply to remove a name off a mortgage).

I’ve heard that Mazengarb Barralet in the city are quite good, as are Capon & Hubert in Phillip.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to have a free consultation for the first meeting, just to nut out exactly what could be involved – what you and your spouse contributed to the relationship (in all aspects, not just monetary), how long you lived together, assets, finances, children, etc. Getting initial legal advice is a good thing to do.

I can only hope that you and your spouse can discuss an outcome which is mutually ideal for you both. The only reason we’re seeking legal advice at the moment is simply to avoid stamp duty: $1500 in legal fees is better than forking out $6000 to $7000.

It’s always best to avoid court as much as possible because it really isn’t worth the money that can potentially be lost. I know it’s easier said than done, though. If one partner wants to play hard ball and be cruel, then there’s not much choice for the other person but to fight back, unless they’re willing to walk away with nothing. Sad times indeed.

All the best, Virgo1972.

Athrak 10:54 am
08 Apr 11

i’d like to recommend you stay away from Legal Aid in civic; they have been dealing with my partners and her ex’s divorce, and they have been dragging their feet. First they blamed his solicitor, then they admitted they had been stalling – and you can never contact them.

capn_pugwash 11:25 am
08 Apr 11

my SIL had a good experience with Olivia Gesini. She’s known as the best in town apparently

Thumper 12:16 pm
08 Apr 11

There are no good divorce lawyers.

Stozza 12:26 pm
08 Apr 11

Hi Virgo.

Check out the previous topic from Dec 2009 (Any good divorce lawyer in Act? ) which has a few recomendations. Again, I will put in my plug for my former employers Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson.

As dtc and Gezabel said, costs will vary depending on how amicable your relationship is with your ex, and how many issues need the assistance of lawyers to resolve. You should however be able to get a solid idea of your legal position, entitlements and likely costs after an initial 1 – 2 hour interview with a lawyer.

mossrocket 1:15 pm
08 Apr 11

i’m using Anderson’s in Civic. They are a bit $$$ at 500 an hour…
but my separation is not traumatic – so I’m only going to need about 1500 – 2000 worth of work.
If you are in a sh*t fight, you are going to spend a lot more, a mate of mine s up to $50K each so far and rising cos they dont agree on teh settlement… by thte time they are finished, the lawyers will have the lot

mossrocket 1:17 pm
08 Apr 11

and you dont want a 1-2 hour meeting with ANY lawyer – 15 minutes should be enough!

Sleaz274 1:42 pm
08 Apr 11

Holy sh*t, another reason never to get married.

For that sort of money I can make all your problems go…away.

I already have the hole, but, I’m out of rope. I’ll invoice you.

colourful sydney rac 1:48 pm
08 Apr 11

Best advice I can give you is to try and reach an in-principle settlement and jointly see a lawyer to make it all legit.

Highly recommend Geoof Mazengarb.

Inappropriate 2:21 pm
08 Apr 11

A friend of mine spent about 12 months and $50k for her separation all because dear hubby was determined to go to court: they settled on the steps of the courthouse.

Avoid lawyers and court if possible.

cleo 2:04 am
12 Apr 11

If you can work it out between you, don’t get legal advice, my ex paid $10,000.00 over twenty years ago, it wasn’t me but him, if the other partner is bitter, you may have problems.

colourful sydney rac 9:22 am
12 Apr 11

cleo said :

If you can work it out between you, don’t get legal advice, my ex paid $10,000.00 over twenty years ago, it wasn’t me but him, if the other partner is bitter, you may have problems.

No, do get legal advice. Avoid going to court, and as I said above work it out as much as you can between yourselves but, definitely get legal advice.

troll-sniffer 10:43 am
12 Apr 11

And if you’re thinking of committing the same grevious offence again, stop and ponder Rod Stewart’s immortal lines:

“Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house.”

Seriously though, many a settlement has been forged by the parties letting go of their egos and accepting their strongest tenable position. For instance supposing you had a settlement worked out except the other party wanted to keep their $40,000 4WD, whereas you wanted to sell and split. It has morphed into a struggle of egos, the other person will accept a 50:50 split but because their parents helped buy the 4WD they consider it to be outside the acceptable settlement, even though legally it can be included. In situations like this it’s better to realise if that is all that is standing between a settlement, getting the hell out of the quagmire and saving untold legal fees, it’s better to capitulate. Every single person I have ever met who has backed down and walked away when it was obvious there was nothing further to be gained has been a million dollars worth of happier from the moment they took the necessary step back.

The above is assuming you or the ex are not actually spoiling for a fight. Some gain a perverse enjoyment out of making their ex suffer, even at great personal cost to them. In those circumstances the more you back down the more you’re likely to get hammered. It’s up to you to weigh up the situation before your backdown backfires, so to speak.

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