What does family law litigation mean?
Litigation describes the use of Court proceedings to resolve a dispute. Usually the matters falling within the description of family law litigation are disputes about parenting arrangements, property settlement, spouse maintenance, child support or some combination of those.
As of September 2021 all family law disputes are determined by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) which has two divisions.
When is family law litigation recommended?
Court is usually, but not always, a last resort. We usually recommend it when there is some genuine urgency so negotiations are not in your interest, or where you have reached an impasse to your negotiations and it is not overall beneficial to continue them. Sometimes there is an imbalance in the negotiating position of the parties that can be balanced by Court, and sometimes being able to rely on the Rules, enforceability and timeframes of the Court process is beneficial.
Your lawyer should always advise you on the various available processes and make a recommendation as to which one is best suited to you. Court is one of the available processes.
Benefits of family law litigation
There are quite a few benefits of family law litigation. It is often the only way to resolve an urgent issue – for example when funds are about to be dissipated from the asset pool, or when one parent has improperly absconded with a child.
It is also the only guaranteed way to progress your matter. Spending many months and thousands of dollars on fruitless negotiations can be a waste of time and money. The relevant rules of Court are written to ensure that parties disclose information, make offers, and negotiate in good faith.
It’s worth remembering that more than 95% of cases that start in the Court process finish without being determined by a Judge. The vast majority settle before a final hearing because the rules and processes help identify and resolve the issues in dispute.
In many cases one party is in a much stronger negotiating position because they have access to funds, use of the home, very primary care of children, or some similar advantage. Going to mediation when you are in the weaker negotiating position may not be your best choice. Court tends to level the playing field because there is at least some need for the other party to negotiate.
Disadvantages of family law litigation
There are a few inherent problems with Court proceedings. Those are:
- It has some inherent delays – usually a month or more before the first Court date and a year or more before a hearing;
- It’s stressful;
- You don’t have control of the outcome at a trial;
- There is some time commitment involved in giving instructions to your lawyer, completing affidavits, etc.
- It can be very expensive.
We think we do the best job of giving you informed and accurate advice about the processes available to you and helping you make a decision as to which one suits you best. Once you’ve made that decision we will represent you to the best of our ability and using our experience to get you the best outcome. That includes competent, bold and strategic representation in Court.
When you work with one of our lawyers, you are working with someone who knows the court system. We run a busy litigation practice with most of our lawyers appearing in court on a regular basis. We are familiar with how court works and we know how to get you from where you are to the outcome you want in the best way possible.
This can be a significant advantage to your matter, and ensures that your day in court is going to be carefully managed to reduce the element of surprise and come up with an expected outcome.
Further, FGD is one of the few firms to offer an in-house Family and Children’s specialist. Kristal is able to provide insight into managing the separation process, as well as developing parenting skills which will help your family in the long run and also increase the likelihood of good outcomes in Court.
We are good at what we do – contact one of our lawyers today for an obligation free chat.