Why is Family Law litigation so expensive?
Family court litigation is expensive because of a number of factors:
(a) Firstly the process – the parties are required to participate in alternative dispute resolution and comply with the Court Rules requiring preparation of documents and evidence and to exchange these materials with the other party. This brings forward preparations that might otherwise be left until closer to a hearing.
However by ensuring the information is available to all parties, it has the effect of increasing the prospects of settlement – because there are less unknowns and therefore less uncertainty about offers of settlement.
(b) Evidence – Family law is heavily fact and evidence based. The complexity of personal relationships (and their business affairs) and the duration of the relationship can mean that there are enormous amounts of material to digest and present in admissible form before the Court.
(c) Issues v Relationship-based disputes – A typical commercial dispute in the Supreme Court deals with “issues” arising from a transaction or a series of transactions. Dispute resolution in the Family Court deals with relationships in which there is an order of magnitude and more transactions and relevant events.
The Family Court is a superior Court of record and high standards are demanded of advocates and solicitors appearing before the Court. In order to properly, completely and comprehensively present the case to the Court, the solicitor needs to be familiar with all relevant facts and this requires the advocate to be well prepared.