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Please Recommend a Lawyer

Filed under: General — nzmale @ 1:32 pm Tue 26th April 2011

Greetings. I am in my second long term relationship, with grown up children from my first marriage, but thankfully no children from my second as my current partner and I are now going through the process of separating.

My partner has been to a lawyer, but I do not yet have one. I need to consult with a lawyer on the process I need to follow, and help me try and negotiate an out of court settlement, and fight for me in court if necessary.

Are there any suggestions anywhere of lawyers that others have found?


  1. Hi nzmale; I have very recently been through the same loop as you are about to find yourself in now. First off; you don’t say where you are located so it will be difficult for other MENZ contributors to make any recommendations for lawyers. So tell us where you are?

    If your partner has already been to see a lawyer; you will no doubt receive a letter, outlining the first cut of a list of “separation” demands for your consideration. This is where you will need to involve your lawyer. You must consult a lawyer so that you have your rights in the separation process explained. I strongly urge you resist the temptation to “negotiate” directly with your partners’ lawyer; anything you say, offer etc will possibly dig you a deeper hole. Get a lawyer to review the letter; he will advise you of your rights and counter strategies.

    Prepare yourself for the fact that you are going to lose half your combined assets!! Make sure you have some clue about what property of value your partner has as well; you will need some negotiation leverage; eg say her jewellery versus your stamp collection.

    I found the best approach was not to get upset and angry; use reason, logic and as much as you can look for a win / win for both parties. To be fair; I was actually more than pleased to be seeing the back end of my ex and was quite delighted when I received the separation demand from her lawyer. Always look on the bright side!! And life has just been absolutely magic since we separated!!

    Comment by Bruce S — Tue 26th April 2011 @ 8:35 pm

  2. Hi nzmale;

    Unfortunately for you, your have to deal with 2 aspects. The emotional loss of the relationship, and the irrational one that CAN occur when you go through lawyers.
    My advice to you is to see a lawyer (it would help to know where you are as there are fathers groups in various areas), understand the process of a separation agreement.
    If there are children involved then they can make it the most emotional issue for you.
    At all costs, be amicable. No matter what she says of does. Record EVERYTHING. Dates/times, what was said, keep emails/txts. I’m sorry to say that women can be vindictive so be on guard. Rather than think you and her can trust each other (and maybe you can) be safe and protect yourself.

    If you can, try to get the property agreed together amicably. Sometimes, the small things aren’t worth fighting for (lawyers will be happy to send emails back and forth of a $50 item so they can bill you for $200).
    If you need some assistance, suggest mediation. Let her think she is in control, and you can come out of it without too much hatred/vindictiveness. My court costs to date are $25000 and are about to double that due to a vindictive ex. There are others on here with much higher costs than that. So bear that in mind when dealing with her. I know it stinks but unless you like paying for lawyers retirement villas, I’d do everything I can to keep it amicable and out of the lawyers hands.
    So, when looking for lawyers, also think about looking for a decent mediator. The relationship services are part of the family court and are awful, so it is better to pay for a good mediator.

    Good luck. You will need it.

    Comment by noconfidence — Tue 26th April 2011 @ 9:54 pm

  3. Hi noconfidence / nzmale; just for the record, my legal fees for my entire separation process were just under $NZ 2,000. I did NOT instigate the process, my wife did. I never had to go to court; saw my lawyer three times in the whole process before signing the separation agreement. My ex was vindictive as well; but as I said, work on a win / win for both parties and keep some negotiating concessions up your sleeve. That way you get the money and not the lawyers (apologies to the legal folk on here).

    Comment by Bruce S — Tue 26th April 2011 @ 11:51 pm

  4. The best results have always occurred where lawyers were not involved. You only need to see a lawyer before you sign the final agreed settlement.
    Personally I think you should try to work out the basic agreement directly with your ex first. once you hire a lawyer you will be charged for the 2 of them to sent letters to each other – which they can keep doing for months or years.
    Can you work with your ex to set out a list of the things you both do agree on and the things you need to resolve? At least you can then start with a list of things that need to be resolved rather than have a moving target. Explain to your ex that the more you both sort things out without lawyers then the more you will both have. Lawyers are going to cost you both.

    Comment by Vman — Thu 28th April 2011 @ 3:03 pm

  5. Thanks Guys – it is good to get some advice from others who have been in similar situations.

    I live on Aucklands North Shore, so a lawyer on North Shore or City is fine. Fortunately I have no kids involved.

    Yes, her lawyer has sent me a list of disclosure requirements, so I feel that I need to understand what I am required to do by law. But appreciate the suggestion that we should do as much as possible ourselves if we can.

    Comment by nzmale — Fri 29th April 2011 @ 10:26 am

  6. nzmale, please note that you do not need to communicate with her lawyer at all. However if you hire a lawyer then that person will definitely have to communicate with the other lawyer.

    That said, disclosing all the finances is simply being helpful. You both need to know exactly what the score is so a settlement can be reached. Both assets and debts and pre-nups, etc need to be set out so you both know the actual situation.

    If you like you can delay things while you get yourself a lawyer. If you have a family trust, own your own business or something like that then perhaps you should get a lawyer before disclosing too much. However frankly most of them are pretty useless and wont do any better than if you did it yourself.

    If you are an employee, there are no children involved and you were married for more than 3 years then it should be pretty cut and dry. Of course that would not stop a spiteful ex and a lawyer dragging it out for months.

    Comment by Vman — Fri 29th April 2011 @ 2:01 pm

  7. or years as in my case….

    Comment by noconfidence — Sat 30th April 2011 @ 2:16 am

  8. But appreciate the suggestion that we should do as much as possible ourselves if we can.

    Just be lucky that you can. For me, I didnt have such luck. She took an action to stop me from doing it between ourselves (criminal action). We had to go through lawyers. This is of course going on longer than it really needs to.

    Comment by Jono — Mon 2nd May 2011 @ 8:09 am

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