Separation can be one of the most stressful and difficult times of a person’s life (even an amicable separation). No doubt those of you reading this post who have experienced it yourself or know someone close to you that has, will agree. Unfortunately, these effects are heightened if your family law matter ends up being litigated in Court. That is why at Martens Legal embarking on Court litigation is always a last resort unless a matter is urgent or someone is at risk.
Why? When a family law matter reaches the hands of the Court, there are generally three guarantees:
- Significant Delays;
- High Costs; and
The purpose of this post is to highlight the disadvantages of taking a matter to Court, and the alternative options to resolving a family law matter.
The queues in the family law courts are frighteningly long. Often couples and families have to wait up to 18 months before a final decision is made by the Court. To put this into perspective, if you commenced Court proceedings now, you may not receive a final decision until early 2020! During this time, emotions run high, communication between you and your former partner often deteriorates, and there is a strong sense of uncertainty.
The financial costs involved in taking your matter to Court can often be significant. In our experience, legal fees for litigated matters often start from $20,000 but can be anywhere up to $50,000 and even more! Why are the fees so high? When your matter is in the Court system, the work that is involved significantly intensifies and it is often essential to engage a barrister to appear at Court on your behalf.
When you initiate Court proceedings, you are essentially handing over the power to make the decision in your family law matter to the Judge. This is a stranger who does not personally know you, your children, or your former partner, and yet it is they who will make the final decision about what is to happen with your finances and/or the care of your children. Because you are not making the decision, the result will always be uncertain.
So, what are your alternatives to going to Court?
The two main alternatives to going to Court that we frequently use are:
- Negotiation; and
Negotiation involves having informal discussions with your former partner or their lawyer about potential outcomes for your family law matter.
If an agreement is reached about what is to happen with your finances and/or parenting arrangements, this agreement will then be documented in what is called “Consent Orders”. For more information on Consent Orders, please read our post “We Don’t Need To Involve Lawyers… Do We?”
Mediation involves an independent third party (the mediator) assisting you and your former partner to have meaningful discussions about potential settlement outcomes. The aim of mediation is to reach an agreement which you are both comfortable with. The mediator is a trained professional who does this type of work day in, day out.
Top Tip to Avoid Ending up in Court
Our top tip to avoid ending up in Court is to seek legal advice early and from an experienced family lawyer.
Unfortunately, there are times when Court is your only option, however at Martens Legal we use our proactive approach to ensure that this is always your last resort.
We would much rather see your matter resolved in a timely and cost-effective way, with an outcome that YOU have decided.
Would you like further information?
By Tegan Martens
Director & Principal Lawyer
The information contained on this site is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. You should seek appropriate professional advice based upon your particular circumstances.