Many reasons have been put forward, but I agree with the suggestion that a new year heralds new beginnings, and resolutions are then made to leave an unhappy/unworkable relationship and move on. Christmas family events are often stressful, the weather is hot, the alcohol is flowing freely, family members recall disputes from years ago, arguments ensue – all of this mayhem can add to a decision to “get out of here”.
This time of year also causes financial stress, guilt as to whether too much money has been spent, and worries as to how the credit card is going to be reduced. Those in business can experience leaner months when customers and clients only spend on essentials, but business overheads still have to be paid.
Naturally there is also worry about the lawyer’s fees for both parties, how are these going to be paid and how deep a hole is going to be made in their assets.
There is a better alternative. Instead of racing off to the lawyer’s office, do some research as to other options available.
- Sit down with your spouse/partner, calculate your assets and liabilities, and have a sensible discussion as to how these are to be fairly divided. A court will generally start with a 50/50 division, or take into account other factors including whether a large financial contribution has been made by one party, or future needs of the parties. Many couples are able to come to an agreement without the assistance of a lawyer, and the benefits to the parties and their family are invaluable; or
- Mediation is a great tool for both parties to sit down with an independent and unbiased third party Mediator who will help you think through, and discuss, your property settlement, and reach an agreement as to how your assets are to be divided. If necessary, you can also discuss arrangements for the children and what is in their best interests – fighting over who will have them for the longest period of time is bound to cause distress for the children, and this may last for years and have a detrimental effect on their lives.
If you can come to an agreement, you only need one lawyer to draft a Binding Financial Agreement. Both parties will need to have independent advice from a family lawyer, generally the lawyer drafting the Binding Agreement can sign a Certificate of Independent Advice for one spouse/partner, and arrange for another family lawyer to do the same for the other spouse/partner.
How much easier are these options, rather than commencing litigation in the Family Court, having to get time off work to attend conferences and court hearings, the long delays in the family law system to reach finalisation, the stress of all of this – which is nothing compared to the stress of your lawyer’s continuous tax invoices, court fees, and perhaps barrister’s fees as well. Remember that these costs (which can well exceed $50,000 for each party) are coming out of your assets.
I am a huge advocate for staying away from the courts (unless there is a fortune at stake!) and this was a driving force in making the decision to commence my online practice where I only act for parties who have come to an agreement as to the division of their assets and I prepare the relevant documents for them. This results in less stress for my clients, and as importantly, less stress for me. Working from a home office has cut down on my overheads, allowing me to offer reasonable fixed fees, and being always available for my clients. The Family Law Act is a Commonwealth Act so I am able to act for clients anywhere in Australia.
So if you are on the same page as I am, and are going through an amicable separation, it will be worth your while to give me a call.
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”