One of the most common myths when it comes to separation is that “all family disputes go to the Court”. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth as a vast majority of cases are resolved without the need of going to Court, and of those matters that do end up in the Court room, only 4% proceed to a final hearing (a trial).
Here at Affinity Family Lawyers, we pride ourselves on providing cost effective legal services, and encourage our clients to resolve matters amicably through alternative dispute resolution options, such as negotiation and mediation.
The process of negotiation involves both parties’ solicitors corresponding through letters, emails, meetings and telephone conferences, in order to reach an agreement that is to both parties’ satisfaction. This process is preferable when parties do not feel comfortable with talking to one another, however still feel the desire to resolve the matter.
Mediation is a structured negotiation process where a neutral third party arranges a meeting between the parties and their solicitors to assist the parties to:
1. Identify and work through the issues;
2. Canvass all possible settlement options; and
3. Reach an agreement to both parties’ satisfaction as opposed to a Judge deciding for you.
FORMALISING THE AGREEMENT REACHED
Once an agreement has been reached, there are two ways to make it legally binding. Through either:
1. Consent Orders; or
2. A Financial Agreement.
What are Consent Orders?
Consent Orders are a written agreement that documents the agreement reached between you and your former spouse, which is then sent to the Court to request that the Court make Orders on the same terms as the agreement reached. Consent Orders have the same legal effect as a Court Order and can be made by the Court without you having to physically attend at Court.
What is a Financial Agreement?
A Financial Agreement, more commonly known as a ‘Binding Financial Agreement’ (‘BFA’) is a legal agreement between two parties pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (‘the Act’). The purpose of the BFA is to allow de facto or married parties to make a binding contract finalising financial matters upon the breakdown of the relationship.
Prior to signing a BFA, each party must be provided with independent legal advice from a legal practitioner about the effects of the BFA on the rights of that party and the advantages and disadvantages of the BFA.
How much time do I have?
It is important to keep in mind that there are time limits within which you should formalise property agreements.
1. If you are married, then you have twelve months from the date of your divorce; and
2. If you are a de facto couple, then you have two years from the date of separation.
Please allow three to six months leeway to account for the time required to negotiate an agreement, drafting the relevant documents, and to take into account lodgement and processing times of Court.
Our friendly and experienced Gold Coast Family Lawyers are here to assist you, so if you have recently separated from your partner, or need assistance in relation to children’s matters, please feel free to telephone us on 07 5563 8970 to arrange a free consultation today.