When it comes to seeking resolutions in Court, what we seem to hear frequently is to ‘get in line’.
Judges in the Federal Circuit Court have around 300-700 matters on their plate to deal with, leading to judges in Sydney and Parramatta already setting hearing dates for 2017 as of late last year.
Yet how is a mother with a six year old daughter and ten year old son meant to sleep easy with that advice, when her kids have been ordered by the Court to live with their father – their alleged abuser? The same Court that ordered that the children change schools, leave their friends and live with their father, is also making this mother wait eighteen months before she can appear before the Court to appeal these orders.
It’s difficult for parents in this situation, but for children the time can seem enormous. When a child counts down time in play dates, birthdays and Christmases, every important milestone a parent may have to miss out on increases the distance between them and their child. Young children are often undergoing critical stages of development, meaning that it’s an important time for family relationships to be established. Unfortunately, temporary orders before final court dates may not always be in the best interests of the child, and the means parents have for changing these are limited due to inordinate waits for court dates.
Court delays don’t simply have implications for children related matters, but can also effect property settlements. Zora Kekeff, chair of the Law Society’s Family Issues Committee, reported a case where a husband got so fed up with waiting for a resolution in his settlement, that the wife was able to force him into a more favourable property settlement just so that the matter would be at an end. According to Kekeff, the wife’s case had no chance of succeeding on the evidence, but the delays of having the matter heard before the Court meant that the husband “gave her basically what she was asking”.
Judges have been reported working ‘huge’ hours and attempting to get cases in Court when it is identified as urgent, yet this isn’t enough to tackle the back log as retiring judges aren’t replaced in a timely manner. The tactic of delaying appointments to save costs simply puts more of a burden on police and health and community organisations.
In last year’s budget Malcolm Turnbull allocated $100 million to address domestic violence in Australia. While these efforts may make it easier for victims to have community and police support, the legal system in place to ensure justice is found is sadly lacking. Many victims are left without an answer in their case for years, during which time they must face their abuser in Court multiple times. The uncertainty, the delays and the long wait for a conviction makes it hard for victims to move on.
The implications of family law delays are clearly far-reaching and with many consequences for families dealing with legal issues. It’s important for you to understand that there are alternatives to the Court process, and Alliance Legal Services can help you utilise these solutions to avoid the onerous burden of going to Court.
We understand that going to Court is a stressful, expensive process that can damage any further relationships. When it’s important that you can continue to cooperate with parties in your matter into the future, such as when children are involved, or if you are looking to resolve family issues as cost effectively as possible, we suggest that you look into collaborative law.
Our firm has a particular interest in this kind of law, as we are always looking to find our clients the best possible solution. We’re a flexible firm and we understand that the best result can sometimes come from cooperation and avoiding expensive litigation. Of course, Collaboration won’t necessarily work if there are instances of power imbalances, allegations or abuse or similar factors. Yet for many struggling families it is a positive solution to resolving their matter.
Here at Alliance we also understand that sometimes litigation is the only answer which meets a client’s best interests. When this is the case, Alliance Legal Services does everything possible to work efficiently for you in your matter. This means that we keep your costs to a minimum, while also working to get you the result you want.
Members of our team have advanced training in collaborative law. We have an Accredited Family Law Specialist (Cristina Huesch) if litigation is necessary, so please give us a call if you would like to inquire further about how Alliance Legal Services can help you.