What to expect in Family Court

If you are in the Family Court System, you will likely be frustrated with the delays.  It can be as long as 2 years from the date of the Application before your matter is heard at a Hearing where a Judge will make a final decision.  Then it may take months to get the judgement depending on the matter.

There will be many Court dates in between and costs can run as high as over $100,000 to get to the final stage.

At the first Court date the Judge asks for a summary of the matter and if it is about parenting, the Judge will likely order that you attend a conference with the Family Court Counsellor.  Sometimes the children are asked to also attend.  This usually happens about 4 weeks after the first Court date.

The Counsellor then provides a report to the Judge so it is no confidential.  Once the Judge receives this report, you will head back to Court for the Judge to read the report.

Should the matter be about property, the Judge may order a Conciliation Conference which is a financial mediation with the Court Registrar.  This gives you the opportunity to finalise the matter.  Registrars are very good at telling people whether their claim is possible.  A Conciliation Conference is a negotiation between you and your ex-partner with Solicitors present.  Most matters do settle on the day as the next step is final hearing which can then cost an extra $40,000 on top of what you have already paid in legal fees.

Given the costs, there comes a point when you have to make a commercial decision.  It is not worth going to Final Hearing if you are only say $20,000 apart in the negotiation.

There needs to be compromise and it is rare that either gets exactly what they want.  There is also the personal toll that it takes on the parties and you must weigh up that toll when you have the opportunity to finalise it at mediation.

If you would like to speak to a solicitor for Family Law Advice, call Kate Walker, Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer.