11 Feb 2016

The majority of family law matters are settled outside of Court. There are a number of steps that couples can take to resolve the legal aspects of their relationship breakdown amicably.

Legal Advice

It is important for each party to obtain timely independent legal advice from a specialist family lawyer. Detailed legal advice will inform each party about:

a) the Court’s process for dealing with a family law dispute;

b) the principles that the Court will consider;

c) the kinds of facts that the Court will consider relevant or irrelevant;

d) the time and costs involved in litigation;

e) the likely outcome of a Trial; and

f) the alternatives to Court.

Legal advice will help the parties have realistic expectations, and therefore assist them to negotiate sensibly.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The Family Court requires couples to attempt Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) before they are able to commence proceedings in Court in some circumstances, and in others to at least have attempted conferral. ADR is usually done by way of mediation, where the parties have an opportunity to discuss the issues in dispute with (or without) the support of their solicitors.

Relationship breakdowns are fraught with emotion. Each party should make their best efforts to be rational and reasonable when discussing the terms of a settlement. Removing emotion from the settlement discussions will increase the chances of reaching an agreement faster.

Even if the parties do not reach a complete agreement at mediation, they are likely to:

a) narrow the issues in dispute; and

b) get an idea of what the other party wants. 

Provide Full and Frank Disclosure

Both parties to a family law matter are under a duty of disclosure; r 13.01 of the Family Court Rules 2004. This means that they must provide copies of all relevant information and documents to the other party.  The earlier each party provides their disclosure, the faster the negotiations can move. A party’s prompt disclosure also demonstrates their willingness to engage in the process and cooperate with each other.

Make an Offer of Settlement

If a party makes a genuine offer to settle, then this demonstrates that the party is serious about settling outside of Court. The first offer of settlement also serves as a starting point for counter offers and further negotiation.

Compromise

The parties should make every effort to compromise where possible.  Firstly, the parties should agree upon the current values of the assets and liabilities of the relationship. This should be done as a matter of priority, as it is difficult to negotiate in a meaningful way without knowing the values of the assets and liabilities. If the parties cannot agree on the value of a particular asset, then they should obtain a joint appraisal or valuation.

While each party may want to keep specific assets, they should also be cautious that their legal costs in pursuing that asset do not exceed the value of the asset itself. It is not worth spending $20,000 in legal fees arguing over an asset worth only $10,000. For that reason, each party should be reasonable and flexible as to which assets they want to keep.

Best Interests of the Children

Above all, the parties should prioritise the best interests of their children. The children are entitled to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. The parties should consider the needs of the children and, in particular, the importance of a stable routine for the children.   

This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

100 years of Supporting West Australians

"Always fast and thorough service. Thank you"

Sitka Pil

My circumstances at the time I made contact with HHG were dire following my argument being rejected by two no win no fee firms. Following my initial meeting with HHG's employment law team I was left feeling extremely positive by the response and concern shown by HHG in regards to their support of my argument along with their preparedness to pursue an outcome on my behalf.

I accept the fact that nobody really wins in these cases (mental health/ workplace) however the end result was what would be considered most favourable and far in excess of what would have been achieved had I not sought the advice from HHG.

I have no hesitation in recommending HHG to anyone caught up in the messy circumstances I found myself in at the time.

Great advice and five-star commitment to their client!!"

Nathan Lynch

"Thank you for such great assistance with the transaction of Flying Domestics on behalf of Lorna Good. It has been such a pleasure to work with the HHG Legal Group and I look forward to working with you in the future."

Jim Goodwin

"Simon Creek and his team were at all times empathic, professional and confident.  My matter needed to be addressed within a pressing time frame, and their availability at short notice and contact after hours was much appreciated.  It caused me considerable stress, but having such a thoroughly reliable and competent team to call on helped me to feel in control. Although I hope not to need their services again in future, I would be confident in doing so!"

Dr Lana Bell

"A good outcome is what we can expect.  A great outcome is a sign of a company which does the very best for their clients. A very big thank you to Daniel Morris for showing empathy towards my small and much needed legal action.

To HHG Legal Group, thank you for a great outcome.  I would recommend your company to anyone seeking legal services."

Jan Atkinson

"Your support this morning was amazingly kind, not to mention your totally reassuring competence, knowledge and wisdom that you used on my behalf.  It was extremely reassuring to have your knowledgeable support, and I particularly appreciated your real and obvious kindness to me. It means so much at a very difficult time. I'm so grateful to you."

Family Law Client

"Janene was very professional and we established a good rapport quickly. The subject of death and wills can be quite confronting to deal with, however, Janene's approach was soft and accommodating."

Lynette Livesey

"A big thank you to HHG for their professional service, continued support, and wide range of legal knowledge. Our clients have given us nothing but kind words regarding HHG Legal Group and so we have no hesitation in referring and recommending Simon Creek and HHG Legal Group for their outstanding services and legal expertise."

Nigel Plowman, Director at McKinley Plowman & Associates

"Simon is a friendly and practical legal advisor. I have received great feedback from the clients I have referred to him and his team at HHG Legal Group."

Richard Beal, Director at BDO

"Over the last few years, I have been impressed by Simon’s legal ability, management skills, entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity and people skills. He appears to be that rare breed of lawyer – both knowledgeable and commercial."

Michael Malone, Founder of iiNet

"Our family has been a client of HHG Legal Group over many years.  Business has included drawing up of wills for three generations and preparing of probate for my father in law. I would have no hesitation in recommending HHG Legal Group to anyone requiring such services."

Bernice Climie

"You should be congratulated for the manner in which your staff address clients and we found our dealings with your company, once again a very pleasant experience and we would like to truly thank you for your efforts."

Steve Harvey and Jane Powell

"HHG Legal were absolutely fantastic. Extremely responsive and brought calm to our chaotic family situation through their knowledge and caring attitude. Extremely professional from our very first contact with them and they expertly guided our family though the required legal process over almost a 12 month period."

Amanda Williamson

"Fantastic team! They really care about their client. Tim Colcutt is a 'go that extra mile' guy who gives his client his all. I can't recommend HHG and Tim enough."

Kerry Samson

"I had a fantastic lawyer in Anne Hurley. She helped me out a great deal with good, sound advice in a friendly, professional manner. First class, thanks Anne"

Graeme Hammond

"Marine Plant Systems has been working with HHG Legal Group for a few years now and they continually provide first-class service. Their professional advice has been invaluable to our company."

Carolin Grimm - Marine Plant Systems

"We were kept up to date at all times. Pricing was always updated over the time period so we remained "in budget". Personal access to someone whenever I had questions. All in all a great experience without too much fuss."

Rosslyn Tasker - COO AltusQ Pty Ltd

"Good service you can count on."

Miles Lee

"HHG Legal Group has provided outstanding support as I have taken the journey of buying a business, their professionalism is beyond reproach. Their assistance throughout the Due Diligence process has been invaluable, I would fully recommend them."

Mark Armitage

"Very friendly and efficient service - what a pleasure working with Anne."

Jacques Taylor

"I highly recommend Daniel from HHG Legal Mandurah. When dealing with a complicated legal property matter recently I was extremely impressed by Daniel's honesty and integrity and the legal advice I received. I am very happy with the service from HHG Legal."

Tony Walker