A. PROPERTY DISPUTES
The Court system is geared to settlement of all property disputes from the time of filing an Application for Final and/or Interim (urgent) orders.
Once an application is filed in either the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court a process commences. Parties will be required to attend a case assessment conference with your respective lawyers and the Court Registrar. The object of this conference is to see whether any further information needs to be obtained such as disclosure of any documents by either party or valuations for assets may need to be gathered or agreed.
Once the parties are satisfied that they have identified the assets and liabilities, valued them and their superannation and are aware of the other’s contributions during the marriage or de facto relationship the process moves on to a conciliation conference.
Our Solicitors will guide you through the conciliation conference process which, in the majority of cases, ends in the parties signing Consent Orders that are drafted on the day after having the assistance of the Registrar guiding the settlement discussions.
You will receive expert legal advice from Gentles Family Lawyers prior and throughout your property matter with consideration given to the cost involved. Naturally, settling a property dispute early on is advisable and very cost effective.
If you fail to achieve a settlement at the Conciliation conference, by law, each party has to make an offer of settlement to the other within a short time limit. Quite often you will end the matter at this stage by accepting or tweaking the offer so that you are in final agreement.
If the matter needs to proceed further we will give you solid advice on strategy, the costs involved and the possible outcome afforded by the Judge. A tiny proportion of cases proceed to a full hearing before a Judge and of those many settle in the first hours of the hearing commencing.
B. PARENTING DISPUTES
Going to Court with a parenting dispute can sometimes tie up a client for 12 to 24 months due to delays in the court system.
If necessary, the Court will direct that your family be involved in a child inclusive conference so a Family Report can be made available to it. You and your children will have appointments made to see the Family Report writer at the Court. That person is generally a Psychologist or Social Worker. The Family Report writer will also speak with your partner/spouse about what is going on for them and the children. It could take 2 to 3 months to obtain a date for the appointments with the Family Report writer due to the immense number of cases before both the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court. A report will be written about you, your partner/spouse and the children and copies will be available to all lawyers involved and the Judge.
At this stage, recommendations are usually made by the Family Report writer which may include but is not limited to, that the children should live with one parent and spend certain time with the other parent or that one or both parents should complete certain courses to assist in making them a better parent. This is one way in which the Judge is able to find out what is happening in your family and how it may be impacting on the children. Other information about the children may be sought by the independent children’s lawyer,if one is appointed, to your parenting case. The independent children’s lawyer can issue subpoenas to schools, hospitals and government agencies that may be involved with you, your partner/spouse or family to provide the Judge with further information. We can also issue subpoenas if we think it is necessary.
The principle applied by the Court in all matters relating to children is that the best interests of the child is paramount. The Family Law Act 1975 governs the way in which parenting and children’s cases are dealt with in the court system. Generally, it can be very taxing on children and parents to have to go through the process.
If you can avoid going through the court process then you and your family will be protected from ongoing stress and anxiety involved. If you have no choice in the matter then we at Gentles Family Lawyers are committed to try and settle your parenting matter with the least amount of stress involved and therefore we will do our best to complete your case in a cost effective manner.