With the greatest of respect to the honourable Judges of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, for almost everyone, going to Court for your family law matter is not a great experience.
Costs wise, you may be looking at some or all of the following:
- filing fees
- lawyers fees
- court fees
- subpoena fees
- witness fees
- independent valuer fees
- private mediation fees
- child expert fees
Time wise, you are at the mercy of the court and its very busy calendar. From start to finish, your matter could range anywhere from months to years. Even once you go to final hearing, the Judge often will not deliver their decision straight away. Then there is also a much longer wait if there is an appeal.
Outcome wise, you may get a very different result from what you are hoping for. Litigation is a long process of information gathering, and it is usually not until right at the end of the process that everyone has the relevant information available to allow a proper assessment of your matter.
This means that if you have advice from your solicitor at the start of your matter based on only one side of the information, their advice is likely to be very different from what they would give if they had all the information from the start.
One way to avoid the Courts, is to use Collaborative Law to reach an agreement. Collaborative Law is a process where the client’s control the costs, time and outcome. The essential element of a Collaborative Law matter is the contract signed by both parties (and their family lawyers) that records their agreement not to go to Court. This focus’s everyone’s mind on reaching an agreement that suits both parties.
This allows parties to come up with creative solutions that suit their individual circumstances. Parties can set their own time frames for the settlement meetings to occur, they do not have to fit in with the Court calendar. Parties can also agree on what information needs to be exchanged and if necessary what experts are needed to provide advice.
They can also take control the information gathering process themselves to minimise legal fees.
By Kasey Fox