So you’ve decided to separate. What pathways are open to you? One of the most useful things you can do is have an initial meeting with a lawyer, so that you can make an informed decision about how best to proceed.
Going to court might be best in certain situations, such as where there is a history of domestic violence or abuse; where there are child protection issues; or when there might be a large power imbalance between the parties that makes dispute resolution tricky, for example.
Sometimes, too, one party refuses to engage in dispute resolution away from court, or simply cannot be found.
However, in many cases, going to court can be avoided:
- When your relationship with your ex is amicable and you wish to maintain a good relationship,
when there are children involved, or
when money is just too tight.
In some instances parties might not be especially amicable, but still want to try to reach a settlement away from court. If you and your former partner agree on the future arrangements for your children after separation you don’t have to go to court. Instead, you can make a parenting plan, or obtain consent orders approved by a court.
There are certain advantages to going to court. In particular, there will be a definite outcome at the end—a judge will make a decision if you and your ex are unable to. Further, the court also has the power to order people to produce documents or carry out particular actions.
However, there are also advantages to bypassing court. Firstly, avoiding court means dispute resolution is more likely to be faster and less expensive. You and your ex will make your own decisions and have more control over the whole process, which will also be far more informal. The process of mediation (whether lawyer facilitated or not) may even help improve parenting relationships which will produce better outcomes for children. We are experienced in helping clients as ‘shadow advisors’, ie setting them up to help them run their own mediations by giving advice, helping with documents but otherwise not attending a costly 2-4 hour mediation.
Please do not hesitate to contact Alliance Family Law for an initial ‘without obligation’ conference. This is an opportunity for you to tell us a little about your circumstances, for us to give you advice on family law in general, to assess and discuss how we would approach your matter, to advise you on the services we provide, and to give you an indication of our costs. Please call us today on (02) 6223 2400.