Most separating couples are able to resolve their Family Law disputes effectively.
But for some, their family law dispute becomes an ongoing saga of conflict and expense which embitters relationships, undermines children’s welfare and everyone’s prospects of future happiness.
So, what are the biggest mistakes in family law that cause couples and families such disasters?
These are the seven biggest mistakes in Family Law:
1. The couple doesn’t enter the family law process with a determination to face up to facts and to do what is necessary to reach a solution. They have some other motive or agenda which gets in the way of resolution.
2. They allow emotions to rule their decisions. The negative emotions of anger, resentment, fear, desire for revenge are rarely helpful in resolving Family Law disputes. What is helpful are parties who make a conscious commitment to bring their more positive and noble emotions to the table and to look for resolutions which provide some benefit for everyone and protect the interests of their children.
3. They think they will get a better deal by being aggressive, acting as a bully and making threats. I can assure them that this rarely works in family law disputes. It is far better to take a conciliatory and empathetic attitude into negotiations.
4. They involve outside authorities unnecessarily and make false, exaggerated or embellished allegations. This includes making complaints to the Police or to the Department of Human Services of violence or abuse of children. Such allegations are hard to forgive and throw fuel on the fire of the dispute. Sometimes it is necessary to raise such issues and it requires courage to do so. But never as a tactic or to get an advantage.
5. Those who make no attempt to be truthful and instead, enter into mislead activities, such as trying to hide assets or not fully disclosing their financial situation. They very often get found out to their great expense.
6. They get bad advice. Advice from well-meaning family and friends may be intended to protect and assist. But it is far better to obtain impartial advice from independent experts, such as a friendly experienced family lawyer.
7. Lastly, people who get too involved and committed to unwise Court proceedings. It is almost always better to try to first resolve matters outside the court system if possible. If court proceedings are necessary, they need to be handled very carefully and with the assistance of experienced family lawyers. Court proceedings should always be a means to resolve disputes early, not a way to prolong them.
While it rarely occurs, there are few things that cause more anguish than out of control family law court proceedings with litigants who have lost their sense of purpose and willingness to compromise, who think they will end up with some sort of victory or vindication in the end.
*Andrew Corish is an Accredited Specialist in Family Law with Corish & Co Specialist Family Lawyers North Sydney. He is trained in Family Dispute Resolution.