As an introduction to the two stories I am about to reveal, I need to tell you that I have been a lawyer for over 25 years. Clients with family law issues have formed the major part of my law practice. Over those years I have learned to “read” the behaviours of clients and identify those who would be willing to come to an amicable agreement on their differences, and those who were going to push their dispute to the limits even though this path would cost both of them thousands of dollars, reducing the joint assets. The stories that follow demonstrate the results that ensue in each case.
How to Organise an Inexpensive Friendly Divorce
Story 1 – John and Sally (not their real names) had been married for fifteen years and had three young children when they decided to separate. They owned a house with a mortgage, and both had superannuation entitlements. Neither of them had gone through a separation before and both came to see me to discuss the process, concerned about what fees would be involved. They had carefully listed their assets and liabilities and had started discussions as to how these would be divided.
We discussed the contributions they had made both at the start, and during, their relationship and their plans for the future including the time their children would spend with each of them.
Both John and Sally were adamant that after a long marriage of fifteen years, their intention was to share equally time with their children and the division of their property should be 50/50. This would be effected by selling their existing home, equally dividing the net proceeds of sale, each retaining their superannuation entitlements (which were about the same), and moving on with their lives.
Their decision made it easier for me to draft their Binding Financial Agreement and resolve their settlement in a short period, and they were very happy with my fixed fee for the work that I had to do. When I spoke to them shortly after the settlement when they asked me to prepare their estate planning documents, they again expressed their gratitude for the stress free process with their settlement, and confirmed that they had decided not to take the advice of friends or family in making their decision.
How to Experience a Very Expensive Divorce
Story 2 – Susan and Harry (not their real names) had been married for ten years and had two young children. The relationship had broken down and Harry had left the former matrimonial home. He contacted me because he was having difficulties talking about a settlement with Susan who was having discussions with a number of family members and friends who had gone through a divorce property settlement. Susan was adamant that the children would be living with her, that Harry would be paying her a large chunk of his income for child support, and that she was entitled to 70% of the net proceeds of the sale of their home. Susan was not prepared to attend mediation and was determined to seek legal advice and file an Application in the Family Court as soon as possible.
Unfortunately I had to advise Harry that my mission was to keep clients out of the Family Court, and that unless Susan was prepared to attend mediation in an effort to resolve the dispute, I would be unable to assist him.
About a year or so later Harry contacted me to let me know that Susan had gone ahead with an application to the Family Court, the matter had gone to a mediation and then to a hearing. It was necessary for both parties to employ a family lawyer, and a barrister to appear at the final hearing. The result was that the assets were divided 55/45, their property had to be sold, and he had orders to spend time with the children for six nights a fortnight. The heartbreaking news for him was that it had cost both parties thousands of dollars in legal fees, court fees, loss of income because of the time he had to take off work etc etc. This meant that they each received much less from the property settlement, the only ones to gain benefit from the whole exercise were the family lawyers and barristers.
Why you should avoid the Family Court
The facts of Story 2 are quite common, and were the reason for me deciding to avoid the stress of dealing with the processes of the Family Court, and to find an alternate way of assisting my clients. I have found that the number of clients who are prepared to experience a friendly divorce form a huge niche market, particularly when they are aware that there is another way of organising their property settlement. As my practice is online, and the Family Law Act is a Federal Act, I have clients all over Australia – fulfilling my mission of keeping clients out of the Family Court!
Lyn Lucas is the owner of Online Divorce Lawyer. With over 25 years experience in family law Lyn empathises with couples going through a separation and a property settlement. Her focus with Online Divorce Lawyer is to reduce the pain and deliver excellent results in the process of a property settlement, her mission is to keep clients out of the Family Court. With a negotiated fixed fee for this service, couples have certainty as to their legal costs. Visit Lyn’s site and opt in for a complimentary e-book “Guide to Saving Money with a Divorce Property Settlement”
Story 2 –