There may be many things in life that people are prepared to take a gamble on – buying a scratchie, playing the lotto or having a punt on Melbourne Cup day.
Some decisions should be far more considered and measured. Those may include buying property, getting married, moving country and legal matters.
Whilst the thought of being involved in anything to do with the courts, paperwork or litigation is confronting and unwelcome to people in their day to day lives, some areas of law are even more stressful as they involve personal and emotional issues. Family law falls into this category.
Judges have a wide discretion when deciding parenting and property matters, it is not uncommon for family law clients to be told “..if you have three different judges deciding the matter, you may get three different outcomes.” There are high risks and sometimes big gambles – with very serious consequences about valued aspects of your life – your assets and your children.
What can family law clients do to reduce the risk in their family law matter?
- Ensure you have a trusted and experienced family lawyer
Family law is a specialised and often complicated area of law as it can involve a number of different areas of law, including trusts, property and estates. Ensuring that your family lawyer is experienced will be of benefit to you in assessing risk and guiding you through your matter.
- Keep control of the decisions
In most parenting matters parties are required to attend family dispute resolution/mediation before they commence proceedings. Whilst this is not (yet) compulsory in property matters, parties are usually encouraged to mediate property disputes before going to Court. The mediation process allows parties to control the outcomes and decisions that are reached. This reduces ‘the gamble’ about what decision a Judge may make about their property or parenting matters.
- Gathering all the information
For many family law clients, the time of separation will require them to undertake a number of different reviews and/or actions in various areas of their life. Some of these may include:- review of a will, review of superannuation beneficiaries, arranging a child support assessment and speaking with a financial planner.
To ensure there is a full understanding of the issues that may arise, parties should be speaking with various agencies and/or consultants to gather information as to how the separation is going to impact all aspects of their lives. A party may need to get tax advice as to how a property settlement may give rise to a tax liability. When a client has all the information there is less risk of issues being overlooked, which can be important to consider, in reaching agreement about their family law matter.
For trusted legal advice about family law matters including discussing options for mediation contact the family law team at McLaughlins Lawyers on (07) 5591 5099.
Author: Joelene Nel
Director: Sophie Pearson