Five tips to reduce the pain of parenting disputes

29-November-2016 blog,Family Law By Mel Collins

Streeterlaw’s Principal Solicitor in Family Law, Ms Simone Green, has a wealth of experience to share with clients. Here she provides five insights about the Family Law process that can help couples take steps to avoid as much financial and emotional pain as possible in resolving parenting disputes.

1. The Courts cannot solve your problems

  • The best outcomes are those that you can work out together through a collaborative process for the benefit of the entire family. A judge does not know you or your family. Court applications should be the absolute last resort. Collaborative Law or other forms of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation should be explored first where possible.
  • There are no winners in Family Law, only shades of unhappiness. People are rarely satisfied with a litigated outcome.

2. The Courts are slow and inefficient

  • Currently in the Sydney Family Law Registry, a disputed matter may take two years to be heard on a final basis. It may be months before you get an interim hearing before some judges.
  • Each judge may have hundreds of cases on their dockets. While they are doing the best they can with the limited resources available, their opinion as to what is urgent will almost definitely differ from yours. Priority is given to parenting matters and those in which a child is at risk of harm are given the highest priority.

3. Family Law proceedings are expensive

  • Talk to your lawyer early about how you can work together to minimise your bills. For instance, limit the number of communications via email or letters and make a time to meet with the lawyer, who will be in a better position to answer more complicated questions in person.
  • The cost of your matter will be dependent upon a number of factors such as:
    i. The length of time it takes to settle a matter or have a judgment delivered in Court
    ii. The complexity of the matter and the number of investigations to be carried out by experts such as valuers or forensic accountants
    iii. The tactics of the other party;
    iv. The number of interim applications filed in a matter
    v. The amount of evidence to be filed in Court and the length of the hearing

4. Family Law is emotional and may require the services of a counsellor

  • Few things will be harder to deal with emotionally than the breakdown of a long-term relationship or marriage. It is important to seek counselling and look after yourself.
  • Emotional decisions are rarely the best decisions. Never email or text when angry or upset. Always review communications to the other party before pressing send. Emails and text messages and social media posts are often used as evidence in Court.
  • Family lawyers are not counsellors. We can only assist with legal issues. Not every issue is a relevant legal issue in the Family Court, for example, one party being unfaithful to the other or one party being responsible for ending the relationship. In these instances, counsellors may provide more helpful advice to clients.

5. The best interests of a child are the paramount consideration by the Court

  • A Court does not care about each of the parties as much as it does about the children.
  • The Court will expect that the parents of a child can work together to make decisions for that child. Where they cannot, for whatever reason, the Court has a difficult task in standing in as the decision maker. It’s important to realise that the decisions made by the Court may not be those the parties expect.
  • Issues of convenience, related to parents caring for children, are rarely high on the list of priorities.
  • Wherever possible, try and limit the issues in dispute, resolving as many as you can yourselves.
  • The Court wants children to have a meaningful relationship with both parents where possible, when it is in the child’s best interest. Children should never be withheld from one parent unless there are risks to the child.
  • Parents should never discuss Family Law/custody issues with their children.

Streeterlaw are experts in all Family Law matters. For further information or to discuss your personal circumstances and how we can help you, call us on 81970105 or email advice@streeterlaw.com.au.

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