In the recent parenting matter of Simic & Norton , the presiding Judge raised significant concerns over the legal fees incurred by the parties amounting to a total of $860,000. These fees were deemed “outrageous” for “ordinary people involved in family law proceedings”, and called for the NSW Legal Services Commission to investigate whether the fees charged amounted to professional misconduct, or unsatisfactory professional conduct by the respective solicitors.
This is just one of an increasing number of examples of where costs in family law proceedings have escalated to a point that is starkly disproportionate to the complexity of the issues in the matter. The costs often leave the parties in a far worse financial, and consequently emotional state than they were in prior to commencing proceedings.
As a party to family law proceedings, we at McLaughlins Lawyers understand that clients are invariably distressed and upset. Here are some tips that may assist you in keeping your legal costs to a minimum at such a tumultuous time:
- Take advantage of counselling services, such as a referral from your GP or through “Family Relationships Online”, to assist you in coming to terms with the emotional and practical ramifications of the breakdown of your relationship. This may enable you to put your “business-hat” on and separate your emotions from clouding rational thought. That way, your instructions to your lawyer come from a place of foresight rather than emotion.
- When instructing your lawyer, ask yourself whether your instructions are absolutely necessary for the pursuit of your interests. For instance, is all correspondence with the other party relevant, non-inflammatory, courteous and void of emotion? Remember, you are not paying your lawyers to be a vessel to vent your anger- your aim should be to reach a resolution with the other party as quickly and amicably as possible so that you can each move on with your separate lives.
- Don’t get caught up fighting over matters of “principle”. Family law clients often insist on pursuing issues that will ultimately have no real bearing on their matter in the interests of “proving a point”. Whilst this is understandable given that emotions are raw during the family law process, pursuing these issues will be counterproductive as they will only cost you money without progressing negotiations between you and your spouse.
Come and see the Family Law team at McLaughlins Lawyers for a measured, efficient and cost-effective solution to your family law matter.
Author: Shona Sahay
Director: Sophie Pearson
Date: 6 March 2018