In this day and age many people are only interested in one thing… “What is it going to cost me?”. And this can be particularly relevant to the cost of Family Law disputes and litigation.
Recent examples of outrageous costs in Family Law
Studies from the Family Law Quarterly have reported that the legal costs in some of the child relocation cases were in excess of $100,000 with an upper limit of $450,000.
The Financial Review reported that Sydney lawyers charged an extravagant $860,000 for legal costs and disbursements. The parties were only disputing property and childrens’ matters which are common issues in the majority of Family Law disputes.
Therefore, it is evident that the legal costs in your Family Law matter have the ability to blow out to eye-watering amounts if your matter is not correctly managed by prudent and experienced family lawyers.
The general rule in Family Law matters is that each party bears their own costs of the proceedings. So, you pay your costs and your former partner pays theirs.
As such, you need to be well aware of ways to minimise your costs in your Family Law dispute. Today’s blog writer has “3 Commandments” to minimise your legal costs.
This is a fairly broad statement. However, for the purposes of this blog we define being organised as:
- Obtaining legal advice early regarding your dispute so that you are realistic about your legal position when you begin negotiations and to ensure that you are within the legal time limits of making a claim.
- Writing down your story (keeping good notes with dates and times) so that we will have something reliable to refer to when we are drafting letters or your affidavit when required. This also assists us in the initial consultation by allowing us to ask for clarification or more details regarding certain circumstances of your case.
- Gather your own evidence and documents to provide to your lawyer in a well organised and chronological order. Evidence such as bank statements, tax returns, trusts deeds, payslips, emails, etc.
- Don’t call your solicitors every time something pops into your head. Unless it’s an emergency, write your thoughts or questions and bring these up with your solicitor the next time you meet.
Mediation is a wonderful process, in which you will be in control to settle your matter promptly, without the excessive costs and uncertainty of a trial.
Another wonderful aspect of mediation is that it is confidential. So, any offers made will not advance your case or be detrimental to it.
At mediation, it is important to remain relaxed and realistic. You may receive an initial offer from the other side which may infuriate you and make you want to walk out. DON’T; you paid good money to the mediators so, don’t waste your money by walking out, or being theatrical.
Instead, relax and discuss, with your solicitors, a genuine and realistic counter offer. If a family report has been completed, read it carefully and follow the advice contained within the report; Judges will usually do the same.
Ultimately, you would want to make your best realistic offer at mediation with the view that it can be settled that day and avoid any further costs and uncertainty of trial.
Be realistic and trust your lawyers advice
After discussions with your lawyers, have a realistic goal of what result you would like to achieve. We lawyers often call this the “acceptable range”.
This is important for two reasons. Firstly, it allows you to focus on the relevant facts or issues in dispute and for you to agree or propose an offer that is both realistic and within the acceptable range. This is far better than being narrowly focused on the ‘principle of the matter’ or ‘revenge’.
Secondly, having a vision lets you make sensible decisions, in your best interests and with the highest potential of finalising your matter earlier, rather than later. This will allow you to start the next chapter of your life sooner and from a much healthier financial position.
If you’ve separated from your partner and you need to formalise childrens’ issues or property settlement, in a financially responsible way, feel free to get in touch directly with today’s blog writer, solicitor in Family Law, Gary Su.