The financial cost of having a Court decide how property is to be divided or how children are to be parented can be disproportionate to the value of property or the issues in dispute.

The hours spent preparing for hearings, meeting with solicitors and barristers, and attending Court can cost tens of thousands in legal fees and Court fees. Cases often sit in the Courts for years before a final decision is made. Then there is the uncertainty about how the Court will deal with issues such as property owned prior to the relationship, inheritances, tax debts and post separation contribution, not to mention rights of biological parents against the rights of intended parents.

On top of the tens of thousands of $$$ spent to get to a hearing, and then possibly, an appeal, parties find themselves locked in conflict and there is an increasing risk of escalation of problematic behaviours which can cause harm to the parties and to children caught up in the dispute.

Sometimes an application to Court is unavoidable because of urgency – where there is immediate risk to a child’s safety for example – however in many cases Court proceedings are started because one party will not respond to reasonable requests to negotiate a settlement or care arrangements for children. And even when parties do participate in discussions negotiations can break down and a Court application seems to be the only solution.

Family law disputes are well suited for negotiated settlements which are interest based rather than win at all costs based – negotiations which are only about who gets the biggest part of the pie or the most nights in a fortnight often fail which leaves the Court option. Interest based negotiations benefit all parties when a settlement is tailored for them and not to an outcome decided by a Judge.

Property negotiations take place in the same legal framework as a Court application – each party is required to make full and frank disclosure of all their assets and financial resources, advisors provide an estimated range or outcome that a Court would order, the parties identify what is in dispute and each put up their solution. The skilled negotiator then starts the process of creating value by pursuing the best outcome for both parties, identifying their separate interests and finding solutions that provide mutual benefit and improve both parties’ outcomes. A decision is made by the parties themselves at a time of their choosing about what, within the constraints of mutual benefit, the best outcome is.

The key then to saving $1000’s on your separation is to select a lawyer who is committed to bringing the parties to the negotiating table and then has the strategies to negotiate a settlement that is effective and long lasting.

Please contact us to speak with one of our experienced lawyers to discuss your family law matter.